The decision to become a nurse practitioner (NP) is an important one, and with it comes a host of questions: what type of degree should you obtain? What specialty are you interested in? With a variety of different program types and concentration options, those considering advancing their education and career by becoming an NP have a lot of decisions to make. Below, we break down the nurse practitioner essentials to help you reach your full potential as a future NP.

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Nurse Practitioner Education Requirements

A nurse practitioner is considered an advanced practice nursing role. Therefore, you must hold either a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Most NP jobs require an MSN, but those looking to advance to the highest levels of nursing practice may opt for a DNP. There are accelerated bridge programs available for both ADN and BSN-educated RNs to pursue post-graduate nursing degrees.

To be eligible for entry into an MSN or DNP nurse practitioner program, most schools require the following:

  • BSN degree from an accredited institution (ADN degree may be accepted for some specialty bridge programs)
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Professional nursing experience (one year recommended for most programs, additional experience required for some programs)
  • Active, unencumbered RN license in the school's state
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Personal statement or essay

After completing the degree program, NPs will want to get certified in their specialty. The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers a wide variety of nurse practitioner certifications.

Types of Nurse Practitioner Programs

There are two main program types for those interested in becoming a nurse practitioner:

MSN: Nurse Practitioner

Many NPs choose to earn an MSN in order to enter this advanced nursing career. An MSN is a post-graduate degree which offers a variety of specialization areas for NPs, and those who already have a BSN can typically complete the program in about 2 years. With many schools offering an MSN: Nurse Practitioner program in both online and classroom-based formats, this degree option is an excellent choice for those who want to enter the field as quickly as possible.

DNP: Nurse Practitioner

For those who already hold an MSN degree, or for those who want to earn an even more advanced education and hold the most prestigious NP positions, Doctor of Nursing Practice: Nurse Practitioner options are available. BSN to DNP programs take roughly 3 to 4 years to complete, while MSN to DNP programs can be completed in around 2 years. DNP nurse practitioner programs also allow students to enter a variety of advanced specializations. A DNP is not to be confused with a Ph.D. in Nursing, which is a research-focused degree.

Find Nurse Practitioner Programs In Your State

Browse through all the nurse practitioner programs offered by state. These include campus, online, and hybrid programs for all nurse practitioner specialties.

Specialty Nurse Practitioner Programs

A big advantage of going into the nurse practitioner field is that it allows you to specialize in a particular area of medicine. Most MSN and DNP nurse practitioner programs offer the ability to major in niche concentrations, including:

Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

Adult gerontology NPs care for patients from early teenage years through old age. There are two main adult gerontology pathways: adult gerontology acute care NP, and adult gerontology primary care NP. The acute care NP works in emergency, surgery, and other acute settings, while the primary care NP works mainly in an ambulatory setting. Adult gerontology NPs can prescribe medication, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and evaluate the overall effectiveness of a patient's treatment plan. Education is another main task, as this type of NP communicates with patients and their families regarding self-management of conditions and preventative health techniques.

Find out more about adult gerontology nurse practitioner programs.

Emergency Nurse Practitioner

The emergency nurse practitioner program prepares nurses for an advanced career in an emergency or primary care setting, caring for patients with acute, life-threatening injuries and illnesses. They can work independently or alongside a physician or care team, performing physical examinations and ordering diagnostic tests and treatments. Emergency NPs may also perform minor procedures. This type of specialty is suited for nurses with military, emergency, or disaster management experience.

Find out more about emergency nurse practitioner programs.

Family Nurse Practitioner

One of the most popular NP specialties, the family nurse practitioner (FNP) cares for families across the lifespan. Many FNPs are the main primary care providers for their patients, building lasting relationships and working with a high level of autonomy. FNPs promote health and wellness via educating patients about disease prevention, but they also treat illnesses and injuries that can range in severity. Each state has guidelines about what tasks an FNP can complete, so they may work independently or alongside a physician depending on where they are located.

Find out more about family nurse practitioner (FNP) programs.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Neonatal nurse practitioners provide care for preterm and term infants, as well as children up to 2 years of age. The program builds upon the baccalaureate maternal-child nursing content and the student's clinical experience. Neonatal nursing breaks down the role into distinct levels, with most nurses working in either intermediate or intensive care nurseries. Aside from caring for infants and very young children, some of whom may have severe health issues, neonatal NPs also attend high-risk births and perform neonatal resuscitation if necessary.

Find out more about neonatal nurse practitioner programs.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

With both acute and primary care options, pediatric nurse practitioner programs prepare nurses to provide care to both healthy and chronically ill children in a variety of settings. They diagnose and treat childhood illness and injuries, administer immunizations, and perform annual physicals. Patience, the ability to communicate, and a desire to work with kids are a must for the role. They typically work alongside pediatricians or independently to provide quality care to infants, children, and young adults.

Find out more about pediatric nurse practitioner programs.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

The psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioner assesses patients for psychiatric disorders, implements psychotherapy with individuals and groups, and provides mental health rehabilitation services. They work with patients of all ages to treat cognitive and behavioral disorders, and may also work with abuse or trauma victims as well. They also prescribe and monitor medication regimens and track patients' progress over time. Psychiatric NPs can find employment in hospitals, mental health facilities, clinics, and more.

Find out more about psychiatric nurse practitioner programs.

Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

The women's health NP program prepares nurses to provide advanced care to women throughout the lifespan. They educate women on reproductive health and prevention techniques, and also provide primary care through chronic or acute illnesses. Women's health NPs provide a variety of gynecological health services, and may assist with prenatal and postpartum care. They can be found in hospitals, outpatient care facilities, community-based settings, and other types of healthcare centers.

Find out more about women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP) programs.

Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

With today's overpacked schedules and busy lifestyles, online NP programs have consistently grown in popularity. Many schools offer online options for both MSN and DNP nurse practitioner programs. Since some RNs continue to work during school, online programs are a flexible and convenient way to complete the coursework. They are also excellent options for those who don't live within reasonable commuting distance of a university. Be sure to check if your school of choice requires any on-campus visits before committing to the program. While supervised clinical hours are usually required for NP programs, most online options allow you to arrange them locally.

Program Accreditation

With so many different MSN and DNP programs available for nurse practitioners, choosing the right one can be daunting. Ensuring that your school and program of choice is properly accredited by a respected agency is imperative to making an informed decision, as this shows that the school upholds certain standards. Both online and classroom-based programs can be accredited. Common accreditation organizations to look for include:

Costs and Length

Depending on the degree level you start with, obtaining the education to become a nurse practitioner can take anywhere from two to four years. Those starting with a BSN can complete an MSN in about two years, or a DNP in roughly three to four years. Some specialties will require more credit hours than others, so it's a good idea to thoroughly check your program of choice's curriculum to see what kind of time commitment will need to be made. Many programs offer online courses for maximum flexibility, and most have part-time or full-time study options available as well so that RNs can customize their schooling to their unique needs.

While each school and program comes with its own costs, every student can expect to pay for tuition, mandatory fees, and course materials. For example, the total cost of the MSN: Family Nurse Practitioner program at Oregon Health and Science University is estimated at $54,083.37 for residents, including tuition and approximate fees. For the BSN-DNP: Nurse Anesthesia program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the resident cost is approximately $40,505 including tuition and fees, but not including indirect costs like books, room and board, and transportation.

List of Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Select Your State:

Alabama

SchoolContact Information
Auburn University at Montgomery
MSN Programs
7400 East Drive
Montgomery, AL 36117
(334) 244-3000
Samford University
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
(205) 726-2011
The University of Alabama
50 University Boulevard East
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
(205) 348-6639
Troy University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
Troy University School of Nursing, Pell Ave
Troy, AL 36081
(334) 834-2320
University of Alabama at Birmingham
1701 University Boulevard
Birmingham, AL 35294
(205) 934-5428
University of Mobile
5735 College Parkway
Mobile, AL 36613
(251) 675-5990
University of South Alabama
5721 USA Dr N
Mobile, AL 36688
(251) 445-9400

Alaska

SchoolContact Information
University of Alaska Anchorage
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
(907) 786-4406

Arizona

SchoolContact Information
Grand Canyon University
3300 West Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85017
(855) 428-5673
Northern Arizona University
202 E Pine Knoll Dr- PO Box: 15035
Flagstaff, AZ 86011
(928) 523-2671
University of Arizona
1305 N. Martin | PO Box 210203
Tucson, AZ 85721
(520) 626-6154
University of Phoenix
1625 W. Fountainhead Pkwy
Tempe, AZ 85282
(866) 484-1831

Arkansas

SchoolContact Information
Arkansas State University
P.O. Box 910
State University, AR 72467
(870) 972-3074
Harding University
915 E. Market Ave
Searcy, AR 72149
(501) 279-4000
University of Arkensas
2 East Center Street
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(800) 952-1165
University of Arkensas for Medical Sciences
4301 West Markham Street
Little Rock, AR 72205
(501) 686-7000
University of Central Arkansas
201 Donaghey Ave.
Conway, AR 72035
(501) 450-5000

California

SchoolContact Information
California Baptist University
8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504
(877) 228-3615
California State University Dominguez Hills
1000 E. Victoria Street
Carson, CA 90747
(310) 243-3696
Loma Linda University
11262 Campus St.
Loma Linda, CA 92350
(909) 558-4923
National University
9388 Lightwave Ave
San Diego, CA 92123
(800) 628-8648
Sonoma State University
1801 East Cotati Ave
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
(707) 664-2466
Western University
309 E. Second St.
Pomona, CA 91766
(909) 623-6116

Colorado

SchoolContact Information
Colorado University
12950 E. Montview Boulevard
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-2152
Regis University
3333 Regis Boulevard
Denver, CO 80221
(180) 038-8236 x6
University of Norther Colorado
501 20 ST.
Greeley, CO 80639
(970) 351-1890
University of Northern Colorado
501 20 ST.
Greeley, CO 80639
(970) 351-1890

Connecticut

SchoolContact Information
Sacred Heart University
5151 Park Avenue
Fairfield, CT 06825
(203) 371-7999

District Of Columbia

SchoolContact Information
Georgetown University
3700 O St NW
Washington, DC 20057
(202) 687-0100
The George Washington University
2121 I St NW
Washington, DC 20052
(202) 994-1000

Florida

SchoolContact Information
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431
(561) 297-6261
Florida International University
11200 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199
(305) 348-7748
Florida State University
600 W. College Avenue
Tallahassee, FL 32306
(850) 644-5621
Gannon University
105 Commercial Center Dr
Ruskin, FL 33573
(814) 871-7000
South University
4401 North Himes Avenue, Suite 175
Tampa, FL 33614
(180) 068-8093 x2

Georgia

SchoolContact Information
Augusta University
1120 15th Street
Augusta, GA 30912
(706) 721-9767
Georgia College
231 W. Hancock St.
Milledgeville,, GA 31061
(800) 342-0471
Georgia South Western State University
800 Georgia Southwestern State University Drive
Americus, GA 31709
(877) 871-4594
Middle Georgia State University
100 University Parkway
Macon, GA 31206
(478) 471-2700

Hawaii

SchoolContact Information
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
2528 McCarthy Mall, Webster Hall
Honolulu, HI 96822
(202) 887-6791

Idaho

SchoolContact Information
Idaho State University
921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, ID 83209
(208) 282-2102
Northwest Nazarene University
623 S University Blvd
Nampa, ID 83686
(187) 766-8496 x8

Illinois

SchoolContact Information
Bradley University
1501 W Bradley Ave
Peoria, IL 61625
(309) 676-7611
Lewis University
One University Parkway
Romeoville, IL 60446
(815) 838-0500
Northern Illinois University
MSN Programs
1425 W. Lincoln Hwy.
DeKalb, IL 60115
(815) 753-1000
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 Saint Francis
500 Wilcox St
Joliet, IL 60435
(800) 735-7500

Indiana

SchoolContact Information
Ball State University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
2000 W. University Ave.
Muncie, IN 47306
(800) 382-8540
Indiana State University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
200 North Seventh Street
Terre Haute, IN 47809
(800) 468-6478
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis
600 Barnhill Drive, NU 122
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 274-2806
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712
(812) 464-8600

Iowa

SchoolContact Information
Allen College
1990 Heath St
Waterloo, IA 50703
(319) 226-2000
Briar Cliff Univrsity
3303 Rebecca Street
Sioux City, IA 51104
(800) 662-3303
Graceland University
1 University Place
Lamoni, IA 50140
(641) 784-5000
Morningside College
1501 Morningside Avenue
Sioux City, IA 51106
(712) 274-5000
University of Iowa
50 Newton Road
Iowa City, IA 52242
(319) 335-7018

Kansas

SchoolContact Information
University of Kansas
1246 West Campus Road Room 153A
Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-6414
Washburn University
1700 SW College Ave
Topeka, KS 66621
(785) 670-1010

Kentucky

SchoolContact Information
Eastern Kentucky University
521 Lancaster Ave
Richmond, KY 40475
(859) 622-1000
Frontier Nursing University
195 School Street
Hyden, KY 41749
(606) 672-2312
Kentucky Christian University
100 Academic Parkway
Grayson, KY 41143
(180) 052-2318 x1
Morehead State University
150 University Blvd.
Morehead, KY 40351
(800) 585-6781
Northern Kentucky University
Nunn Drive
Highland Heights, KY 41099
(859) 572-5100
Spalding University
901 South Fourth St.
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 585-9911
University of the Cumberlands
6178 College Station Drive
Williamsburg, KY 40769
(877) 713-8767
Western Kentucky University
1906 College Heights Blvd
Bowling Green, KY 42101
(270) 745-0111

Louisiana

SchoolContact Information
Grambling State University
403 Main St
Grambling, LA 71245
(318) 247-3811
McNeese State University
4205 Ryan Street
Lake Charles, LA 70609
(337) 475-5000
Nicholls State University
906 East 1st St.
Thibodaux, LA 70301
(187) 764-2465 x7
Northwestern State University of Louisiana- Online
175 Sam Sibley Dr
Natchitoches, LA 71497
(318) 357-6011
Southeastern Louisiana University
500 W University Ave
Hammond, LA 70402
(985) 549-5637
Southern University and A&M College
801 Harding Boulevard
Baton Rouge, LA 70813
(225) 771-4500
University of Louisiana at Monroe
700 University Ave.
Monroe, LA 71209
(318) 342-1640

Maine

SchoolContact Information
Husson University
1 College Circle
Bangor, ME 04401
(207) 941-7000
Saint Joseph's College
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
278 Whites Bridge Road
Standish, ME 04084
(207) 892-6766

Massachusetts

SchoolContact Information
Massachusetts College Of Pharmacy And Health Sciences
179 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 879-5964
Regis University
235 Wellesley Street
Weston, MA 02493
(781) 768-7000
University of Massachusetts Amherst
651 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003
(413) 545-2703
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 William T. Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
(617) 287-5000
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
285 Old Westport Road
Dartmouth, MA 02747
(508) 999-9202

Michigan

SchoolContact Information
Eastern Michigan University
900 Oakwood St
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
(734) 487-1849
Spring Arbor University
106 E. Main St.
Spring Arbor, MI 49283
(184) 465-7252 x5
University of Detroit Mercy
4001 W. McNichols Road
Detroit, MI 48221
(313) 993-1245
Wayne State University
5557 Cass Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202
(313) 577-4082

Minnesota

SchoolContact Information
Herzing University Minneapolis
5700 W Broadway Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55428
(612) 360-2484

Mississippi

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

Missouri

SchoolContact Information
Mizzou Online- University of Missouri
136 Clark Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-2491
University of Central Missouri
P.O. Box 800
Warrensburg, MO 64093
(877) 729-8266

Montana

SchoolContact Information
Montana State University
P.O. Box 173560
Bozeman, MT 59717
(406) 994-3783

Nebraska

SchoolContact Information
Clarkson College
101 S. 42 Street
Omaha, NE 68131
(402) 552-3100
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

Nevada

SchoolContact Information
Touro University of Nevada
874 American Pacific Drive
Henderson, NV 89014
(702) 777-8687
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
4505 S. Maryland Pkwy.
Las Vegas, NV 89154
(702) 895-3011

New Hampshire

SchoolContact Information
Rivier University
420 South Main Street
Nashua, NH 03060
(603) 888-1311

New Jersey

SchoolContact Information
Felician University
One Felician Way
Rutherford, NJ 07070
(201) 559-6000
Seton Hall University
400 South Orange Ave
South Orange, NJ 07079
(973) 761-9000

New Mexico

SchoolContact Information
New Mexico State University
P. O. Box 30001, MSC 3185
Las Cruces, NM 88003
(575) 646-3812

New York

SchoolContact Information
Pace University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
1 Pace Plaza
New York, NY 10038
(866) 722-3338
Stony Brook University
100 Nicolls Rd
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(631) 632-6000
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
12 Capen Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
(716) 645-2000

North Carolina

SchoolContact Information
East Carolina University
East Fifth Street
Greenville, NC 27858
(252) 328-6131
Northeastern University - Charlotte
101 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28246
(980) 224-8466
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223
(704) 687-8622
University of North Carolina Wilmington
601 S. College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403
(910) 962-3000
Winston-Salem State University
601 S Martin Luther King Jr Dr
Winston-Salem, NC 27110
(336) 750-2000

North Dakota

SchoolContact Information
University of North Dakota
430 Oxford St Stop 9025
Grand Forks, ND 58202
(701) 777-4174

Ohio

SchoolContact Information
Kent State University
1375 University Esplanade
Kent, OH 44242
(330) 672-7930
Ohio University
The Ridges, Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701
(740) 593-1000
The University of Toledo
2801 W. Bancroft
Toledo, OH 43606
(800) 586-5336
Walsh University
2020 East Maple Street
North Canton, OH 44720
(330) 490-7090
Wright State University
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton, OH 45431
(937) 775-3333
Xavier University
3800 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati, OH 45207
(513) 745-3000

Oklahoma

SchoolContact Information
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
709 Oklahoma Blvd.
Alva, OK 73717
(580) 327-1700
The University of Oklahoma
1100 N Stonewall Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73117
(405) 325-0311

Pennsylvania

SchoolContact Information
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
909 E Wood St.
Clarion, PA 16214
(800) 672-7171
Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions
1601 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 895-2000
Edinboro University
219 Meadville Street
Edinboro, PA 16444
(814) 732-2000
Messiah College
One College Avenue
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
(717) 766-2511
Robert Morris University
6001 University Blvd
Moon Township, PA 15108
(800) 762-0097

South Carolina

SchoolContact Information
Anderson University
316 Boulevard
Anderson, SC 29621
(864) 231-2000
Francis Marion University
PO Box 100547
Florence, SC 29502
(800) 368-7551
South University - Columbia
9 Science Court
Columbia, SC 29203
(803) 799-9082
University of South Carolina
1601 Greene Street
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-7412

Tennessee

SchoolContact Information
Austin Peay State University
P.O. Box 4458
Clarksville, TN 37044
(931) 221-7662
East Tennessee State University
365 Stout Drive
Johnson City, TN 37614
(423) 439-4578
King University
1350 King College Road
Bristol, TN 37620
(800) 362-0014
Middle Tennessee State University
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
(615) 898-2300
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 963-5000
Tennessee Tech University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
1 William L Jones Dr
Cookeville, TN 38505
(931) 372-3101
The University of Tennessee Health Science Center- Memphis
910 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38163
(901) 448-5500

Texas

SchoolContact Information
Angelo State University
2601 W. Avenue N
San Angelo, TX 76909
(180) 094-6862 x7
Baylor University
1301 S University Parks Dr
Waco, TX 76798
(800) 229-5678
Midwestern State University
3410 Taft Blvd
Wichita Falls, TX 76308
(940) 397-4000
South University Austin
1220 W Louis Henna Blvd
Round Rock, TX 78681
(512) 516-8800
St. David's School of Nursing Building
1555 University Blvd.
Round Rock, TX 78665
(512) 716-2900
Texas A&M University
400 Bizzell St
College Station, TX 77843
(979) 845-3211
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
6300 Ocean Drive, Unit 5774
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
(361) 825-2753
Texas Christian University
2800 S University Dr
Fort Worth, TX 76129
(817) 257-7000
The University of Texas at Arlington
701 S Nedderman Dr
Arlington, TX 76019
(817) 272-2011
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
301 University Blvd
Galveston, TX 77555
(409) 772-1011
University of Houston
4800 Calhoun Rd
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 743-2255

Virginia

SchoolContact Information
Jefferson College of Health Sciences
Southeast, 101 Elm Ave
Roanoke, VA 24016
(888) 985-8483
Old Dominion University
5115 Hampton Blvd
Norfolk, VA 23529
(757) 683-3000
South University - Richmond
2151 Old Brick Rd
Glen Allen, VA 23060
(804) 727-6800

Washington

SchoolContact Information
Gonzaga University
502 E Boone Ave
Spokane, WA 99202
(509) 328-4220

West Virginia

SchoolContact Information
West Virginia University
6700 Health Sciences South
Morgantown, WV 26506
(304) 293-0111
Wheeling Jesuit University
316 Washington Ave
Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 243-2072

Wisconsin

SchoolContact Information
Concordia Wisconsin Campus
12800 N Lake Shore Drive
Mequon, WI 53097
(262) 243-5700