Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs (MSN) 2021

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Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs Badge

Nurses play an integral role in the health and wellness of individuals and the community. RNs with a master of science in nursing (MSN) and specialized training can assume roles as nurse practitioners. 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.

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Accredited Online College Programs

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.

Top 10 Online Nurse Practitioner Master’s Programs

FAQ


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • Is an MSN the same as a nurse practitioner?

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


  • 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.


Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs (MSN) 2021



  1. Maryville University
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1872, Maryville University offers online bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in 10 areas of study. Students pursuing the nurse practitioner master's online need 47 credits to graduate. The family nurse practitioner program includes core classes on topics like leadership and quality, adult-gerontology healthcare, and professional role development. In addition to coursework, students complete 745 clinical hours. Learners can begin on one of six start dates per year. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a personal statement and official college transcripts. Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The online master of science in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  2. Morningside College
    Location

    Sioux City, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Sioux City, Iowa, Morningside College is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and enrolls around 1,300 full-time undergraduate and graduate students each year. Students pursuing the nurse practitioner degree online must complete 47 credits. The family nurse practitioner program requires 600 clinical hours and three on-site residencies. Core classes cover topics like quality, safety, and informatics; advanced role development; and statistics in advanced practice. The online nurse practitioner program prepares students to sit for national certification exams through the American Nurse Credentialing Center and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA and valid RN, as well as basic cardiac life support licenses. They must also submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Morningside College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The master of science in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  3. Saint Joseph's College of Maine
    Location

    Standish, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located two hours north of Boston, Saint Joseph's College of Maine enrolls around 2,500 students each year. The school's online master of science in nursing requires 48 credit hours. Students can choose from two nurse practitioner concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner/Individual Across the Lifespan Nurse Practitioner. Full-time learners can graduate in just over two years. Prospective students must hold a bachelor of science in nursing from an accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an unencumbered RN license. They must also submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. Saint Joseph's College of Maine is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The master of science in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  4. Rivier University
    Location

    Nashua, NH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Nashua, New Hampshire, Rivier University is a Catholic institution that enrolls over 2,000 students each year, including around 770 graduate students. Students pursuing the nurse practitioner degree online take 36-49 credit hours. Core courses include advanced pathophysiology, biostatistics for health sciences, and quality healthcare improvement. The online family nurse practitioner program also requires around 600 clinical hours, three on-site practicums, and a research capstone project. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an unencumbered RN license. They must also submit a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. Rivier University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The master of science in nursing is accredited by the Accreditation Commission of Education in Nursing (ACEN).

  5. Georgia College and State University
    Location

    Milledgeville, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Milledgeville, Georgia College and State University is a public liberal arts institution that offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs. The online master of science in nursing with a family nurse practitioner concentration requires 40 credit hours. Online learners take courses on topics like advanced nursing assessment, primary care of adults, and healthcare research and statistics analysis. They also complete two practicums. Students can transfer up to nine graduate credits toward the degree. Prospective students need an accredited bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum 2.75 GPA and a current RN license. They must also submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal statement. Georgia College and State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The master of science in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  6. Spring Arbor University
    Location

    Spring Arbor, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Michigan, Spring Arbor University offers over 70 undergraduate and graduate programs, including several online options. Students pursuing the nurse practitioner degree online can choose from two concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner or Adult-Gerontology, Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Regardless of their concentration, all students take core courses like moral and ethical decision-making, theoretical perspectives for advanced practice, and role development and leadership. This program prepares graduates to sit for national certification exams from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Applicants need a bachelor of science in nursing from an accredited program with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an unencumbered RN license. They must also submit official transcripts. Spring Arbor University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The master of science in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  7. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including many online options. Students pursuing the nurse practitioner master's online must complete 56 credit hours to graduate. The family nurse practitioner program includes classes on topics like confronting issues in contemporary healthcare environments, ethical decision-making in healthcare, and quality and safety in healthcare. The mostly online program requires two on-campus intensive courses. The program also requires a family practice practicum. Applicants need a bachelor of science in nursing from an accredited program with a minimum 3.0 GPA and an RN license. Drexel prefers candidates with 1-2 years of nursing experience. Prospective students must submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a resume. Drexel University is accredited by the Middle State Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The master of science in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  8. American International College
    Location

    Springfield, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Springfield, Massachusetts, American International College enrolls almost 3,500 students each year, including 2,000 graduate students. The school's 46-credit online master of science in nursing offers a family nurse practitioner track that includes a supervised practicum. Classes cover topics like the art and science of advanced nursing, advanced concepts of pathophysiology, and primary care clinical management. Students culminate the degree with an advanced practice capstone project. The fully online program takes two years of full-time study to complete. AIC offers rolling admissions. Prospective students need a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and an active RN license.They must also submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. American International College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The master of science in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  9. Walsh University
    Location

    North Canton, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Canton, Ohio, Walsh University enrolls more than 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. Students pursuing the nurse practitioner master's online benefit from small class sizes. The family nurse practitioner program includes classes on topics like care of women, clinical pharmacology, and advanced health assessment. Students also complete 650 clinical hours. Walsh's placement coordinator helps students find appropriate clinical sites. Online learners culminate the degree with a capstone project. Walsh charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state students. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in nursing and submit official postsecondary transcripts. Walsh University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The master of science in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  10. East Carolina University
    Location

    Greenville, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Greenville, North Carolina, East Carolina University hosts students from 47 states and 73 countries. The school offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate programs, including an online master of science in nursing that requires 42-43 credit hours. Students pursuing the nurse practitioner master's online choose from the following concentrations: Clinical Nurse Specialist: Adult Gerontology (43 credits), Clinical Nurse Specialist: Neonatal (43 credits), Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (42 credits), and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (not specified). Applicants need a bachelor's in nursing from an accredited university with a minimum 2.7 GPA and an RN license. They must also submit official transcripts and a personal statement. Some applicants may need to submit GRE scores. East Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The master of science in nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

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.

Assume Nurse Practitioner Role
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.
More Job Opportunities
Nurse practitioners enjoy 46% projected job growth between 2019-2029, which is much higher than the national average for all occupations.
Specialization Options
Online MSN degree programs often allow students to pursue specializations, such as gerontology, neonatal, pediatric care, or psychiatry.
Leadership Roles
Online MSN programs give students the advanced expertise needed to assume leadership roles in the field.
Research Experience
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.

Online Guide to Accredited Colleges and Universities

 
 

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.


  • American Nurses Association 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.

  • Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing 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.


  • National League for Nursing

    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.


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.

ARN Scholarship


Who Can Apply: 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.
Amount: $1,500

March of Dimes


Who Can Apply: 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.
Amount: 5,000

AfterCollege-AACN Scholarship Fund


Who Can Apply: 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.
Amount: $2,500

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