Opting for a career as an acute care nurse practitioner is a popular choice for nurses who enjoy the fast-paced nature of critical care, but who want to enter advanced practice. There are a variety of programs across the nation to help nurses achieve this goal, and nurses can choose a sub-specialty, such as adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner or pediatric acute care nurse practitioner. Students can also choose between MSN and DNP pathways to further customize their educational experience.

Choosing an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) Program

With a little research, picking the right acute care nurse practitioner program can be a snap. Be sure to check for the following when comparing programs:


Proper accreditations are one of the main things a student can look for when researching programs. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) are two of the main accrediting bodies to look for. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses also maintains a list of schools with curriculums verified for acute care nurse practitioner certification.

Program Cost

With most acute care nurse practitioner programs listing tuition cost per credit hour, students will find a range of tuition prices, from roughly $550 to $900 per credit, depending on factors like school, location, and degree-level chosen. Keep in mind that these tuition costs are typically not inclusive of things like mandatory fees, course materials, and other additional expenses.

Program Length

For the typical MSN-level acute care nurse practitioner program, roughly 48 credit hours are required, along with a minimum number of clinical hours. Part-time and full-time study options are usually available. For DNP-level acute care nurse practitioner programs, roughly 77 total credits are needed, along with mandatory clinical hours. Students can expect the DNP program to take about 4 years to complete.

Internship/Externship Opportunities

Many schools have relationships with local hospitals and medical centers in which students can complete their hands-on training. Students can inquire with prospective schools to see what kind of internship/externship opportunities are available to them.

Online/Campus Options

At the request of increasingly time-strapped students, many programs now offer both online and campus-based acute care nurse practitioner programs. Some schools even offer a "hybrid" program, allowing students to take many courses online but also offering classroom-based lectures and labs.

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Degree Levels Offered

Those interested in an acute care nurse practitioner career have two educational pathways to choose from: the MSN or the DNP. Both usually offer the option of choosing between an adult gerontology or a pediatric acute care nurse practitioner pathway. Each degree level has its own pros and cons, so students must consider their own long-term goals to determine which is right for them.

MSN Programs

There are a variety of MSN-level specialty programs; the most common is the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. Students enrolled in this program will take a mix of advanced nursing courses as well as specialized acute care courses such as Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics, Pathophysiology of the Human Disease, and Diagnostic Reasoning and Clinical Decision-Making for Acute Care. Jefferson College of Nursing at Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania offers an accredited MSN Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program.

DNP Programs

Those wanting to enter the highest roles as acute care nurse practitioners can opt for a doctoral degree. These DNP programs emphasize leadership and prepare nurses to provide direct patient management from admission to discharge. Students will take much of the same coursework as MSN students, but will also take classes such as Organizational and Systems Leadership, Clinical Data Management, and numerous DNP Practicum courses. The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing offers an accredited DNP-level Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program.

Online Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs

As distance education grows, more schools are offering online acute care nurse practitioner programs. These programs can offer an unprecedented level of flexibility for those with hectic schedules. Be aware, though, that some programs do require a limited amount of on-campus participation as well.

Advantages of an Online Program

The convenience of online programs is the main draw for most students. Those with busy lives and numerous commitments can take courses from the comfort of their own homes. This is ideal for those who don't live close enough to a university to make commuting feasible. Additionally, online students don't have to worry about the gas or parking expenses that campus-based students must deal with.

Program Accreditation

Like their classroom-based counterparts, online acute care nurse practitioner programs should be fully accredited. ACEN or CCNE accreditation is strongly preferred, and a school that's been vetted by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses is also a safe bet.

Costs and Length

Online acute care nurse practitioner programs require the same amount of credits that a campus-based program does, but part-time study options are much more common with distance learning. This means that the total length of the program generally depends on how quickly the student wants to move through the curriculum. Costs for both MSN and DNP level online programs are also similar to in-person programs, at approximately $500-$800 per credit hour. Boise State University's online Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program costs $750 per credit hour.

What Are the Admissions and Certification Requirements?

Admissions requirements for most acute care nurse practitioner programs include:

  • Must possess a BSN from an accredited school
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Possess a valid, unencumbered RN license from the U.S. (some states may be ineligible for certain online programs; always inquire with a prospective school first)
  • Personal goal statement
  • Provide a current copy of a resume or CV
  • Professional letters of recommendation

Certification as an Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-AG) is through examination via the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. The Acute Care Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-AC) credential is offered through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. Eligibility requirements for these exams include:

  • Current, unencumbered U.S. RN or APRN license
  • Successful completion of an accredited, graduate-level acute care nurse practitioner program

List of Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs

There are a variety of acute care nurse practitioner programs available, see the list below.

Select Your State:


SchoolContact Information
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1720 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35294
(205) 975-7529
University of Alabama in Huntsville
301 Sparkman Drive
Huntsville, AL 35899
(256) 824-1000
University of South Alabama
5721 USA Dr N
Mobile, AL 36688
(251) 445-9400


SchoolContact Information
Arizona State University
Graduate Certificate Programs
411 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(480) 965-7788
Grand Canyon University
3300 West Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85017
(855) 428-5673
University of Arizona
1305 N. Martin | PO Box 210203
Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 626-6154


SchoolContact Information
University of Arkansas
2 East Center Street
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(800) 952-1165
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
4301 West Markham Street
Little Rock, AR 72205
(501) 686-7000


SchoolContact Information
Brandman University
16355 Laguna Canyon Road
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 341-9800
Cal State LA
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032
(323) 343-3000
California State University Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90840
(562) 985-4111
University of California San Francisco
UCSF Box 0602
San Francisco, CA 94143
(415) 476-1435


SchoolContact Information
Colorado State University Pueblo
2200 Bonforte Blvd
Pueblo, CO 81001
(719) 549-2462
University of Colorado
12950 E. Montview Boulevard
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-2152
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
12950 E. Montview Boulevard
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-2152
University of Northern Colorado
501 20 ST.
Greeley, CO 80639
(970) 351-1890


SchoolContact Information
University of Connecticut
231 Glenbrook Rd
Storrs, CT 06269
(860) 486-0876
Yale University
400 West Campus Drive
Orange, CT 06477
(203) 785-2389


SchoolContact Information
Barry University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
11300 NE 2nd Avenue
Miami Shores, FL 33161
(305) 899-3379
University of Central Florida
Graduate Certificate Programs
12201 Research Parkway, Suite 300
Orlando, FL 32826
(407) 823-2744
University of Miami
P.O. Box 248153
Coral Gables, FL 33124
(305) 284-3666
University of South Florida
12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd MDC Box 22
Tampa, FL 33612
(813) 974-2191


SchoolContact Information
Augusta University
1120 15th Street
Augusta, GA 30912
(706) 721-9767
Emory University
1520 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30322
(404) 727-7980
Georgia Southern University (Armstrong)
1935 Abercorn Street
Savannah, GA 31419
(912) 344-2576
Mercer University
1501 Mercer University Drive
Macon, GA 31207
(180) 063-7237 x8
Middle Georgia State University
100 University Parkway
Macon, GA 31206
(478) 471-2700


SchoolContact Information
Hawaii Pacific University
1 Aloha Tower Drive
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 544-0200


SchoolContact Information
Boise State University
1910 University Dr
Boise, ID 83725
(208) 426-1000


SchoolContact Information
Lewis University
One University Parkway
Romeoville, IL 60446
(815) 838-0500
Loyola University of Chicago
Graduate Certificate Programs
1032 W. Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-3000
Rush University
600 S. Paulina St
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 942-7100
Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing
511 NE Greenleaf Street
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 655-2201
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
845 South Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 996-7800
University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford
1601 Parkview Ave
Rockford, IL 61107
(815) 395-0600


SchoolContact Information
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis
600 Barnhill Drive, NU 122
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 274-2806
Saint Mary's College
Le Mans Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
(574) 284-4000
University of Southern Indiana
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712
(812) 464-8600


SchoolContact Information
Allen College
1990 Heath St
Waterloo, IA 50703
(319) 226-2000
Graceland University
1 University Place
Lamoni, IA 50140
(641) 784-5000
University of Iowa
50 Newton Road
Iowa City, IA 52242
(319) 335-7018


SchoolContact Information
University of Kansas
Graduate Certificate Programs
3901 Rainbow Blvd.
Kansas City, KS 66160
(913) 588-1619


SchoolContact Information
Northern Kentucky University
Nunn Drive
Highland Heights, KY 41099
(800) 985-7215
University of Kentucky College of Nursing
315 College of Nursing Building 751 Rose Street
Lexington, KY 40536
(859) 323-5108
University Of Louisville
555 South Floyd Street Suite 3019
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 852-5825


SchoolContact Information
Louisiana State University New Orleans
1900 Gravier Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 568-4200
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
175 Sam Sibley Dr
Natchitoches, LA 71497
(318) 357-6011


SchoolContact Information
Saint Joseph's College of Maine
278 Whites Bridge Road
Standish, ME 04084
(207) 893-7957
University of Southern Maine
PO Box 9300
Portland, ME 04104
(180) 080-0487 x6


SchoolContact Information
Johns Hopkins University
525 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
(410) 955-4766
University of Maryland
655 W. Lombard St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 706-6109


SchoolContact Information
Elms College
291 Springfield Street
Chicopee, MA 01013
(413) 594-2761
MGH Institute Of Health Professions
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
36 1st Avenue
Boston, MA 02129
(617) 726-2947
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-2000
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 William T. Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
(617) 287-5000
University of Massachusetts Medical School
55 Lake Avenue
North Worcester, MA 01655
(508) 856-3488


SchoolContact Information
Madonna University
36600 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, MI 48150
(734) 432-5300
University of Michigan
426 N. Ingalls St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(734) 763-5985
University of Michigan- Flint
303 E. Kearsley Street
Flint, MI 48502
(810) 762-3300
Wayne State University
5557 Cass Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 577-4082


SchoolContact Information
Winona State University Rochester
859 30th Ave SE
Rochester, MN 55904
(507) 285-7100


SchoolContact Information
University Of Mississippi Medical Center
2500 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39216
(601) 984-1000


SchoolContact Information
Barnes Jewish College
4483 Duncan Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 454-7055
Barnes-Jewish College Goldfarb School of Nursing
4483 Duncan Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314) 454-7055
Maryville University
650 Maryville University Drive
St. Louis, MO 63141
(314) 529-9300
University of Missouri - St. Louis
DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate Programs
1 University Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63121
(314) 516-5000


SchoolContact Information
Creighton University
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
(402) 280-2700
University of Nebraska Medical Center
42nd and Emile
Omaha, NE 68198
(402) 559-4000


SchoolContact Information
University of Nevada, Reno
1664 N. Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89557
(775) 784-1110

New Jersey

SchoolContact Information
Rutgers School of Nursing
180 University Avenue
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 972-4307
Seton Hall University
400 South Orange Ave.
South Orange, NJ 07079
(973) 761-9000

New Mexico

SchoolContact Information
The University of New Mexico
2502 Marble Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM 87131
(505) 272-0858

New York

SchoolContact Information
Columbia University
617 W 168th St
New York, NY 10032
(212) 305-5756
NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
433 First Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 998-5300
Pace University
Graduate Certificate Programs
1 Pace Plaza
New York, NY 10038
(866) 722-3338
St. John Fisher College
3690 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 385-8000

North Carolina

SchoolContact Information
Duke University
307 Trent Drive
Durham, NC 27710
(919) 684-3786
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223
(704) 687-8622


SchoolContact Information
Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 368-2000
Kent State University
1375 University Esplanade
Kent, OH 44242
(330) 672-7930
Malone University
2600 Cleveland Avenue Northwest
Canton, OH 44709
(800) 521-1146
Mount Carmel College of Nursing
127 S Davis Ave
Columbus, OH 43222
(614) 234-5800
Ohio University

Athens, OH 45701
(740) 593-1000
The Ohio State University
1585 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
(614) 292-4041
The University of Akron
302 E Buchtel Ave
Akron, OH 44325
(330) 972-7111
University of Cincinnati
2600 Clifton Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45220
(151) 355-8550 x0
Ursuline College
2550 Lander Rd
Pepper Pike, OH 44124
(440) 449-4200
Wright State University
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton, OH 45431
(937) 775-3333
Youngstown State University
Graduate Certificate Programs
1 University Plaza
Youngstown, OH 44555
(330) 941-3000


SchoolContact Information
Oklahoma City University
2501 N Blackwelder
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
(405) 208-5000
The University of Tulsa
800 S Tucker Dr
Tulsa, OK 74104
(918) 631-2000


SchoolContact Information
Oregon Health & Sciences University
3147 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd
Portland, OR 97239
(503) 494-8311


SchoolContact Information
DeSales University
2755 Station Ave.
Center Valley, PA 18034
(610) 282-1100 x2838
Drexel University
1601 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 895-2000
Moravian College
1200 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 861-1660
Thomas Jefferson University
111 S 11th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 503-8890
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
418 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-8281
University of Pittsburgh
3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
(412) 624-4586

Rhode Island

SchoolContact Information
Rhode Island College
600 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 456-8000
University of Rhode Island
45 Upper College Rd
Kingston, RI 02881
(401) 874-1000

South Carolina

SchoolContact Information
University of South Carolina
1601 Greene Street
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-7412


SchoolContact Information
East Tennessee State University
365 Stout Drive
Johnson City, TN 37614
(423) 439-4578
Tennessee Tech University
1 William L Jones Dr.
Cookeville, TN 38505
(931) 372-3101
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
615 McCallie Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37403
(423) 425-4416
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center- Memphis
910 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38163
(901) 448-5500


SchoolContact Information
Texas Tech University
3601 4th St.
Lubbock, TX 79430
(806) 743-2730
Texas Woman's University
304 Administration Dr.
Denton, TX 76204
(940) 898-2000
The University of Texas at Arlington
701 S Nedderman Dr
Arlington, TX 76019
(817) 272-2011
The University of Texas at El Paso
500 West University Avenue
El Paso, TX 79968
(915) 747-5000
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
301 University Blvd
Galveston, TX 77555
(409) 772-1011
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio - UT Health San Antonio
7703 Floyd Curl Dr
San Antonio, TX 78229
(210) 567-7000
University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston
MSN Programs
6901 Bertner
Houston, TX 77030
(713) 500-2000


SchoolContact Information
University of Utah
10 South 2000 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
(801) 581-3414


SchoolContact Information
University of Virginia
225 Jeanette Lancaster Way
Charlottesville, VA 22903-3388
(434) 924-0141
Virginia Commonwealth University
1100 East Leigh Street
Richmond, VA 23298
(804) 828-0724


SchoolContact Information
Seattle University
Graduate Certificate Programs
901 12th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 296-6000
University of Washington
1410 NE Campus Parkway
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-2100

Washington, DC

SchoolContact Information
Georgetown University
3700 O St NW
Washington, DC 20057
(202) 687-0100


SchoolContact Information
Marquette University
1250 W Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(800) 222-6544

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