Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs 2021

RNs with a master of science in nursing (MSN) and specialized training can assume roles as nurse practitioners.

September 28, 2021

reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs 2021

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Online NP Programs

Online nurse practitioner programs help MSNs further specialize their training. Nurse practitioners play an integral role in the health and wellness of individuals and the community. These advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) can provide primary and specialty healthcare.

NPs and other MSN-educated nurses enjoy growing occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for nurse practitioners to grow 45% between 2019-2029. With a $115,800 median pay, nurse practitioners also enjoy a lucrative career. They may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and physicians' offices.

An RN needs a BSN to enter many MSN programs. However, some schools offer RN to MSN programs that provide an accelerated option for RNs to enter an MSN program without a BSN. This guide ranks the best online nurse practitioner programs. It also covers other important information for aspiring nurse practitioners, including professional organizations and scholarship opportunities for MSN students.

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Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

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Answers to Your Concerns About NP Programs

true Q. How many years is a MSN degree?

RNs with a BSN can typically earn an MSN in two years. However, completion times vary by factors like specialty and enrollment status.

true Q. What jobs can you do with an MSN degree?

Graduates with an online MSN degree can pursue generalist nurse practitioner roles or more specialized roles, like nurse anesthetist.

true Q. Is an MSN the same as a nurse practitioner?

An MSN meets the minimum educational requirement to assume nurse practitioner roles.

true Q. Do you need a BSN to be a nurse practitioner?

Many MSN programs require applicants to hold a BSN. However, some schools offer bridge programs that allow RNs with an associate degree or diploma to pursue an MSN in an accelerated format.

What Are the Goals of an MSN Degree?

MSN programs train nurses for clinical and nonclinical roles. Nonclinical RNs may pursue careers in areas like teaching, research, and administration.

Nurses seeking to advance their clinical careers can pursue MSN training as generalists. This path prepares RNs for roles such as clinical nurse leader and clinical research nurse. Online MSN degrees programs may also offer specializations, such as gerontology, clinical nurse specialist, certified nurse midwife, and nurse practitioner.

MSN students typically complete 30-50 credits, including core courses and at least 500 clinical practice hours.

Why Get an MSN Degree?

The following list outlines five benefits of pursuing an online MSN program.

RNs need at least an MSN work as APRNs. APRNs like nurse practitioners typically earn higher salaries and receive more responsibilities than their BSN-educated peers. Nurse practitioners enjoy 46% projected job growth between 2019-2029, which is much higher than the national average for all occupations. Online MSN degree programs often allow students to pursue specializations, such as gerontology, neonatal, pediatric care, or psychiatry. Online MSN programs give students the advanced expertise needed to assume leadership roles in the field. Many MSN programs require a research component that culminates in a thesis. This requirement gives students invaluable research experience that they can later parlay into a research career.

What Are the Requirements for an MSN Degree?

The admission process for online MSN degree programs varies by college. However, most nursing schools require a BSN, an unencumbered RN license, and clinical experience. Some colleges offer RN-to-MSN programs that allow students to pursue an advanced degree with just a diploma or associate degree in nursing.

Many online MSN programs also require students to submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and essays. Applicants may also need to meet a minimum GPA requirement.

Once enrolled in an online MSN degree program, students typically complete 30-50 credits, including course, clinical hour, and research requirements.

Professional Organizations for MSN Students

Professional organizations advocate for the needs of nurses and patients. They also provide members with access to the latest research and professional development opportunities. Additional benefits include access to networking opportunities and discounts on continuing education.

ANA represents RNs across the country. ANA members receive access to free professional development resources, up-to-date nursing news, networking opportunities, and state nurse association member benefits. This international honor society for nurses boasts 135,000 active members in 100 countries. Almost 40% of Sigma members hold graduate degrees. Membership benefits include access to career development resources, leadership programs, and financial aid opportunities. NLN's membership consists of 40,000 individual members that include graduate students. Members receive access to NLN publications, savings on products and resources, networking and leadership programs, and NLN grants and scholarships.

Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs (MSN) 2021

Texas A & M University-College Station View School Profile College Station, TX $19118

Based in College Station, Texas A&M's College of Nursing offers a master of science in nursing in family nurse practitioner, mostly online. In addition to the online coursework, students must begin the program with a one-day intensive on campus and must complete 45 hours on campus throughout the program to qualify for licensure.

The 48-credit program covers course topics such as advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, and primary care of families. Students must travel to the Bryan-College Station campus twice to complete clinical hours. Students must also plan an on-campus visit during the completion of the diagnostics and procedures course. The rest of the curriculum happens online with flexible scheduling.

The program accepts Texas residents with unencumbered registered nurse licensure only. The program recommends a 3.0 minimum GPA on the last 60 hours of the student's bachelor of nursing degree. Students must also complete elementary statistics with a grade of "C" or better before the first day of class.

Texas A&M is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Georgia College & State University View School Profile Milledgeville, GA $20478

Located in Milledgeville, Georgia College offers an online master of science in nursing in family nurse practitioner. Students take courses online but must travel to campus a few times throughout the program.

Course topics include healthcare research and statistical analysis, perspectives of advanced nursing practice, and advanced physiology and pathophysiology. From there, students focus on family nurse practitioner track courses such as primary care of adults and primary care of women. The program requires a total of 40 credits and 630 completed clinical hours. Students must complete their clinical requirements in an approved Georgia facility.

Applicants must possess current Georgia registered nurse licensure and a bachelor of nursing degree to apply for the program. The school does not specify a minimum GPA requirement.

Georgia College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

University of Southern California View School Profile Los Angeles, CA Unconfirmed

Based in Los Angeles, USC offers an online master of science in nursingwith a family nurse practitioner focus. Full-time students can complete the program in as few as 21 months or part time in 33 months. Students attend all courses online with live instruction and must plan for two on-campus intensives.

Course topics in the 49-credit program include pathophysiology, pharmacology, and community-based research, as well as instruction in healthcare technology and policy. Students with a "C+" or below in undergraduate anatomy and physiology or microbiology and chemistry must take a two-unit bridge course to prepare for graduate work.

Applicants must hold a bachelor of science in nursing and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, as well as a completed three-credit statistics course for program eligibility. Students must also submit a record of current registered nurse licensure and proof of at least one year of previous work experience.

USC is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

George Washington University View School Profile Washington, DC Unconfirmed

Located in Washington D.C., GW offers an online master of science nursing in adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. Students complete coursework online but must travel to the D.C. area for periodic on-campus intensives.

Students complete the 48 credit program taking courses such as concepts in population health, nursing leadership, and evidence-based practice for healthcare researchers. Students receive 500 direct care patient hours during the course of completing 650 clinical hours. Coursework also includes adult and gerontology care-specific classes.

Students need at least one year of clinical experience in an acute care setting to apply for the program. GW requires a bachelor's degree in nursing with a preferred GPA of 3.0 and unencumbered nurse licensure.

GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Samford University View School Profile Birmingham, AL Unconfirmed

Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Samford offers a master of science in nursing in family nurse practitioner. Students complete all courses online and participate in three on-campus intensives.

The 42-credit program includes courses such as advanced physiology and pathophysiology, statistics for advanced practice nursing, and ethical leadership and collaboration. Family nurse practitioner students also complete concentration area courses such as care of children and care of adults. Clinical requirements happen at an approved setting near the student's location.

Applicants must possess unencumbered registered nurse licensure, a bachelor of science in nursing, and a minimum GPA of 3.0. Samford is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Maryville University of Saint Louis View School Profile Saint Louis, MO Unconfirmed

Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Maryville offers an online master of science in nursing(MSN). Students can choose from five nurse practitioner specialty tracks: family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

Students complete coursework online with the option of additional certificate options in each of the five concentrations. The 41- to 50-credit program includes nursing core courses such as theoretical foundations of nursing practice, evidence-based nursing practice, and advanced pathophysiology. Students then take coursework for their chosen concentration.

Applicants must hold a bachelor of science in nursing and unencumbered registered nurse licensure. Students must also possess a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission. Students pursuing an additional post-master certificate in their concentration area must first graduate from the MSN program with a 3.0 GPA.

Maryville is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

The University of Texas at Arlington View School Profile Arlington, TX $12277

Based in Arlington, UTA offers an online master of science in nursingwith five different nurse practitioner focuses. Students complete coursework online with multiple start dates throughout the year. Students can complete the program in 31-36 months.

Students take nursing core courses, such as exploration of science and theories for nursing, advanced health assessment and diagnostic reasoning, and advanced pharmacology. Students then take elective courses in their chosen track: family nurse practitioner, pediatric primary care, pediatric acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, and adult-gerontology acute care.

Applicants must hold unencumbered registered nurse licensure and a bachelor of science in nursing to begin the admissions process. Students with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 do not need to submit GRE scores. Students required to send GRE scores need a minimum score of 149 on the verbal section, 141 on the quantitative section, or 3.5 on the analytical writing section (best two of three sections).

UTA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

DeSales University View School Profile Center Valley, PA Unconfirmed

Located in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, DeSales offers an onlinemaster of science in nursingin adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. Students can pursue the program either full time or part time with online or hybrid class options.

Students begin the 50-credit curriculum with core nursing courses, including applied research, principles of applied epidemiology and biostatistics, and advanced physical assessment. From there, students participate in specialty and clinical courses such as procedures in advanced nursing practice, adult acute care, and a capstone portfolio. Students must also complete 675 practicum hours and 75 clinical hours.

Applicants must hold unencumbered registered nurse licensure and a bachelor of science in nursing. Students must also possess a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for the program. DeSales also requires at least 12 months of full-time nursing experience within the last three years for eligibility.

DeSales is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Northern Arizona University View School Profile Flagstaff, AZ $14882

Based in Flagstaff, NAU offers an onlinemaster of science in nursing in family nurse practitioner. Students participate in courses covering advanced nursing practice and caring for families across their lifespan.

The 48-credit program includes nursing core courses such as theoretical foundations of nursing, applied pathophysiology, and advanced principles of evidence-based practice. Students must also take clinical experiences in family primary healthcare, gaining experience in acute care and chronic conditions.

Students may apply with a bachelor of science in nursing or an associate of nursing and bachelor's degree in another field. Students must possess a minimum GPA of 3.0 and hold a current Arizona registered nurse license in good standing for eligibility. Students from other states must meet the Arizona Board of Nursing regulations for multi-state licensure.

NAU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Olivet Nazarene University View School Profile Bourbonnais, IL Unconfirmed

Located in Bourbonnais, Illinois, ONU offers an online master of science in nursing in family nurse practitioner. The school also offers an accelerated option to make completing the program even faster.

The 52-credit program includes courses in theoretical and practical foundations of nursing, moral and ethical decision-making, and nursing informatics. Students also take courses in advanced pathophysiology and evidence-based practice. Students complete clinical hours at an approved location near them but do not need to complete residencies on campus to complete the program. Motivated students may add a post-graduate certificate in nurse education at the completion of the program.

Applicants must hold unencumbered registered nurse licensure and a bachelor of science in nursing. Students must also possess a minimum GPA of 3.0 to qualify for the program. The school also requires a minimum of 2,000 hours of RN work history for program eligibility.

ONU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Saint Joseph's College of Maine View School Profile Standish, ME Unconfirmed

Located in Standish, SJC offers an online master of science in nursingwith two nurse practitioner specializations: adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner and family and individual across the lifespan nurse practitioner.

Students begin the 48-credit program with nursing core courses such as nursing informatics, organizational and systems leadership, and population health and interprofessional collaboration. From there, students take 24 credits in their chosen concentration. Students complete practicum hours at an approved location in their area based on their concentration.

Applicants must hold a current U.S. registered nurse license and a bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum GPA of 3.0. International students must contact the admissions office for directions on credentialing.

SJC is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

University of Central Missouri View School Profile Warrensburg, MO $12616

Located in Warrensburg, UCM offers an online master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner focus. Students take the 44-credit program online and complete a capstone experience to demonstrate skills mastery.

Nursing core courses include methods of research in nursing, theories of nursing, and organizational leadership in complex health systems. Advanced practice areas include primary care courses in childbearing focus, adults and the elderly, and advanced health appraisals. Students may take courses on a full-time or part-time basis, but the school prefers students to study part time so they can continue to work in the field.

Students begin the application process by first applying to the graduate school. Applicants must hold a bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum GPA of 3.0 GPA and a current registered nurse license. Students must also possess at least one year of clinical experience to apply to the nursing program itself.

UCM is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Clarkson College View School Profile Omaha, NE Unconfirmed

Located in Omaha, Nebraska, Clarkson College offers an online registered nurse to master of nursing. Students can choose from three nurse practitioner specialty areas: family nurse practitioner, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner.

Students begin with 12 credits of general education, such as healthcare core, before moving on to 12 credits of major courses. From there, seven credits of transition courses prepare students to complete the master's of nursing core. Courses include nursing law and ethics, research design, or theories and concepts of advanced practice roles. Students then take the final course requirements for their chosen nurse practitioner concentration.

The program requires students to possess current or in-progress registered nurse licensure before courses start. The school does not require previous employment for admission, but students must gain and keep employment throughout the duration of the program to complete their clinical and practicum requirements.

Clarkson College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Angelo State University View School Profile San Angelo, TX $11558

Located in San Angelo, Texas, ASU offers an online master of science in nursing in family nurse practitioner. Students take courses online with minimal residency requirements.

The 49-credit curriculum includes evidence-based practice and theory for advanced nursing, health policy and ethics, advanced pathophysiology, and leadership roles in advanced nursing. Students then take clinical specialization courses such as skills for advanced practice, family primary care, and mental health concepts. At the end of the program, students complete a comprehensive exam to graduate.

Applicants must reside in the state of Texas and possess unencumbered Texas registered nurse licensure to qualify for admission. Students must also hold a bachelor of science in nursing with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and possess at least one year of clinical experience as a registered nurse. Students with a GPA between 2.75 and 2.99 may gain provisional admission.

ASU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

The University of Texas at El Paso View School Profile El Paso, TX $7720

Based in El Paso, UTEP offers a two-year master of science in nursing in nurse practitioner. Students may choose from one of five focus areas: family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner, pediatric acute care nurse practitioner, pediatric primary care nurse practitioner, and psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner.

Students take courses such as nursing theory, pharmacotherapeutics, and advanced health assessment. Students then take focused courses in their chosen concentration to finish their degree requirements. Students must also complete clinical hours at an approved location.

Applicants must hold an unencumbered registered nurse license from the state of their current practice and a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Students do not need to send GRE scores or other standardized test scores.

UTEP is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Scholarships for MSN Students

Online MSN students can take advantage of scholarships to help offset the cost of their degree. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines several scholarship opportunities for MSN students.

Scholarships for MSN Students
Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

ARN Scholarship

$1,500 This scholarship supports students pursuing an MSN or doctoral degree in nursing. Applicants must show membership to and involvement in ARN. They also need at least two years of professional experience in rehabilitation nursing.

March of Dimes

$5,000 The March of Dimes, with support from Pampers, awards scholarships to RNs enrolled in graduate programs focused on maternal-child nursing. Applicants must hold an RN license.

AfterCollege-AACN Scholarship Fund

$2,500 This fund gives preference to nurses pursuing RN-to-BSN, RN-to-MSN, and graduate nurse educator programs. To qualify, students must already be enrolled in a program at a member college of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Applicants must sign up to AfterCollege.

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