One of the benefits of the age of technology is that working students have the ease of enrolling in online programs - not just for career advancement, but to change careers entirely. One career change that we see in the world of nursing is non-nurses looking to become advanced-practice registered nurses. While it may seem difficult, if not impossible, for a non-nurse to become a nurse practitioner, there are options out there for students.

Admission Requirements

Every school has individual, specific admission requirements. For non-nurses, admission requirements may include:

  • Hold a bachelor's degree in another discipline
  • Submit a resume/CV
  • Provide a written statement of purpose
  • Provide letters of recommendation
  • Complete any pre-requisite courses related to nursing, if required. Courses may include:
    • Anatomy/physiology
    • Nutrition
    • Statistics
    • Psychology


The curriculum in an online NP program may vary depending on the specialty track the student chooses. Many programs are 100% online, while some are hybrid or have minimal campus visit requirements. Core courses are usually completed first followed by courses pertaining to the selected specialty. Core courses may include:

  • Healthcare policy
  • The role of the advanced-practice nurse
  • Leadership
  • Nursing practice
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Health assessment

After the core courses are complete, the student may begin their specialty track. Schools offer different tracks for nurse practitioners, and may include specialties such as:

It's important to recognize that while an NP program may advertise an "online" curriculum, nurse practitioner students must complete a specific number of supervised clinical hours to graduate. This is usually done on their own time. Additionally, some programs prepare students to earn an RN along the way.

Time Requirements

The length of time it takes for a non-nurse to complete an online NP program depends on several factors. If pre-requisites need to be completed, it will take longer. Part-time status, obviously, will also take longer. Generally, students can expect to spend anywhere from two to four years in the program, depending on their starting point and whether they are full or part-time students.

Nurse practitioners are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a 31% projected increase of APRNs is expected until 2026! The direct-entry, online programs that offers opportunity for non-nurses is also growing in order to meet this demand. For more information on accelerated nursing programs, please click here.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
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