Nurses interested in infant care and looking to enter advanced practice have the option of entering a graduate-level program to become a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP). A career as a neonatal nurse practitioner is highly rewarding, with opportunities to provide life-saving care to newborn infants who are premature, severely ill, or who suffer from a variety of health conditions. With post-baccalaureate and doctoral programs available, nurses have a wealth of options regarding how they become an NNP.

Choosing a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program

There are many neonatal nurse practitioner programs available, but to pick the right one, students are encouraged to consider the following:

Accreditation

Proper accreditation ensures that a program is held to rigorous academic standards. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) are the two main accrediting bodies for neonatal nurse practitioner programs. There may also be local and regional accreditations available as well.

Program Cost

Neonatal nurse practitioner tuition can fluctuate based on location, school, and degree type. Generally, NNP tuition ranges from $700 to $1,000 and over per credit. Doctoral level programs tend to be more expensive than master's degree programs, in part because more credits are required overall. Tuition costs usually do not include any extras, such as program fees, lab fees, course materials, and other associated expenses.

Program Length

For a master's-level NNP education, roughly 40 credit hours are needed to graduate, with part-time and full-time study options typically available. Students can usually finish the degree in 2-3 years. For the doctoral pathway, roughly 80 total credit hours are needed. This type of neonatal nurse practitioner program typically takes 3-4 years for students to complete.

Internship/Externship Opportunities

Due to the hands-on clinical rotation hours required of MSN and DNP-level neonatal nurse practitioner programs, many schools have relationships with nearby hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities. Students are encouraged to inquire with their school of choice about the internship options available to them, or if there are opportunities for them to find their own clinical preceptor sites.

Online/Campus Options

Online options have gained major traction in the last few years, which has resulted in many schools offering both online and campus-based NNP programs. Some schools even offer a "hybrid" program, allowing students to take many courses online but also offering classroom-based lectures and labs.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Degree Levels Offered

Nurses can choose from two different educational pathways in order to become a neonatal nurse practitioner: the Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) or the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Both programs give students a solid foundation in advanced practice neonatal nursing, but the DNP program goes beyond the master's level to prepare students for NNP leadership.

MSN Programs

Students enrolled in a neonatal nurse practitioner MSN program can plan on taking a mix of advanced core nursing courses as well as specialty NNP courses. Most offer classes such as Advanced Neonatal Nursing Theory, Advanced Neonatal Embryology/Physiology, and Application of Genetics to Health Care. Clinical hours are also required as part of the program. The University of California - San Francisco is an example of a school that offers an MSN-level neonatal nurse practitioner program.

DNP Programs

Doctoral neonatal nurse practitioner programs offer more in-depth courses in the specialty and place a strong emphasis on leadership. Students will take classes such as Diagnosis and Management, Health Systems and Health Policy, and Translating Evidence to Practice. A minimum number of clinical hours are also required for the DNP. The University of Maryland, for example, offers a DNP-level neonatal nurse practitioner program.

Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs

Online programs have grown in popularity due in great part to their convenience, allowing busy students to take courses from the comfort of their own homes. Students should keep in mind, however, that some online programs may require minimal on-campus visits, and that clinical rotations must be completed in person.

Advantages of an Online Program

The convenience and flexibility of online NNP programs are some of the biggest advantages for students. For those who have chaotic schedules and numerous commitments, being able to move through the coursework when and where they choose is a huge draw. For those in rural areas, online NNP programs provide the option of earning a post-baccalaureate degree without having to commute or relocate. Online students also gain the advantage of eliminating the bulk of transportation costs.

Program Accreditation

Much like their campus-based counterparts, online programs should hold proper accreditations. ACEN and CCNE accredited online programs signify a reputable level of quality, and can provide peace of mind to those who may be new to distance-learning options.

Costs and Length

While online MSN and DNP neonatal nurse practitioner programs require the same number of credits as classroom-based programs, these distance-based options tend to be more flexible, making program length dependent on the student's needs. Tuition costs are also similar to campus programs, although online students don't have to worry about commuting costs such as gas and parking fees. The University of Connecticut, for example, charges tuition of $825 per credit, or $2,475 for a 3-credit course, for its online MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner program.

What Are the Admissions and Certification Requirements?

Admissions requirements for most NNP programs include:

  • BSN or higher from an accredited university
  • Current, unencumbered RN license
  • GPA of at 3.0 or above
  • Personal goal statement
  • Current resume
  • Copies of all undergraduate transcripts
  • Two or more years of professional RN experience in a neonatal intensive care unit may be required

NNP certification is via examination through the National Certification Corporation. Eligibility requirements include:

  • Must hold a current, U.S. RN license
  • Successful completion of an accredited graduate neonatal nurse practitioner program and provide verification of graduation and transcripts
  • Must take the exam within 8 years of graduating from an NNP program

List of Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Programs

There are a many neonatal nurse practitioner programs available, including the following schools listed below.

Select Your State:

Alabama

SchoolContact Information
University of Alabama at Birmingham
MSN Programs
1701 University Boulevard
Birmingham, AL 35294
(205) 934-5428
University of South Alabama
MSN Programs
5721 USA Dr N
Mobile, AL 36688
(251) 445-9400

California

SchoolContact Information
Loma Linda University
11262 Campus St.
Loma Linda, CA 92350
(909) 558-4923
University of California San Francisco
MSN Programs
UCSF Box 0602
San Francisco, CA 94143
(415) 476-1435

Colorado

SchoolContact Information
Regis University
3333 Regis Boulevard
Denver, CO 80221
(180) 038-8236 x6

Connecticut

SchoolContact Information
University of Conneticut
231 Glenbrook Rd
Storrs, CT 06269
(860) 486-0876

Delaware

SchoolContact Information
University of Delaware
25 North College
Newark, DE 19716
(302) 831-1253

Georgia

SchoolContact Information
Emory University
MSN Programs
1520 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30322
(404) 727-7980

Illinois

SchoolContact Information
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)
DNP Programs
845 South Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 996-7800
University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford
DNP ProgramsMSN Programs
1601 Parkview Ave
Rockford, IL 61107
(815) 395-0600

Indiana

SchoolContact Information
University of Indianapolis
MSN Programs
1400 East Hanna Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46227
(317) 788-3368

Kentucky

SchoolContact Information
University Of Louisville
DNP Programs
555 South Floyd Street Suite 3019
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 852-5825

Louisiana

SchoolContact Information
Louisiana State Univeristy New Orleans
1900 Gravier Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 568-4200

Maryland

SchoolContact Information
University of Maryland
655 W. Lombard St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 706-6109

Massachusetts

SchoolContact Information
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 373-2000

Michigan

SchoolContact Information
Wayne State University
5557 Cass Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 577-4082

Mississippi

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

Missouri

SchoolContact Information
University Of Missouri Kansas City
5100 Rockhill Rd
Kansas City, MO 64110
(816) 235-1000

Nebraska

SchoolContact Information
Creighton University
DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate Programs
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
(402) 280-2700

New Jersey

SchoolContact Information
The College of New Jersey
2000 Pennington Rd.
Ewing, NJ 08628
(609) 771-2591

New York

SchoolContact Information
Stony Brook School of Nursing
DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
101 Nicolls Road
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(631) 689-8333
Stony Brook University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
100 Nicolls Rd
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(631) 632-6000

North Carolina

SchoolContact Information
Duke University School of Nursing
MSN Programs
307 Trent Drive
Durham, NC 27710
(919) 684-3786
East Carolina University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
East Fifth Street
Greenville, NC 27858
(252) 328-6131

Ohio

SchoolContact Information
Case Western Reserve University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
10900 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 368-2000
The Ohio State University
1585 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
(614) 292-4041
Wright State University
MSN Programs
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton, OH 45431
(937) 775-3333

Pennsylvania

SchoolContact Information
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
418 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-8281
University of Pittsburgh
DNP ProgramsMSN Programs
3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
(412) 624-4586

Tennessee

SchoolContact Information
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center- Memphis
DNP Programs
910 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38163
(901) 448-5500

Texas

SchoolContact Information
Baylor University
1301 S University Parks Dr
Waco, TX 76798
(800) 229-5678
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
MSN Programs
301 University Blvd
Galveston, TX 77555
(409) 772-1011

Utah

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

Virginia

SchoolContact Information
Old Dominion University
MSN Programs
5115 Hampton Blvd
Norfolk, VA 23529
(757) 683-3000
University of Virginia
DNP ProgramsMSN Programs
225 Jeanette Lancaster Way
Charlottesville, VA 22903-3388
(434) 924-0141

West Virginia

SchoolContact Information
West Virginia University
6700 Health Sciences South
Morgantown, WV 26506
(304) 293-0111