For nurses with a keen interest in women's health, there are numerous pathways available to ascend to the role of women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP). This advanced practice nursing career can be achieved by entering a master's or doctoral program, and many schools even offer online learning options in addition to traditional campus-based courses. Read on to learn about how to pick the right women's health nurse practitioner program for you.

Choosing a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Program

When researching potential WHNP programs, it's helpful to keep the following key items in mind:

Accreditation

Properly accredited WHNP programs are a much safer bet when it comes to where a student chooses to spend their time and money. National organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and/or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) are two of the main ones to watch for. In addition to this, some women's health nurse practitioner programs may also be accredited by local or regional organizations.

Program Cost

Women's health nurse practitioner program tuition can fluctuate wildly based on state, school, and degree level chosen. Generally, for both MSN and DNP level programs, tuition falls anywhere from $600 to well over $1,000 per credit hour. DNP programs will be more expensive overall, as they require more credits to graduate. Most programs also have additional mandatory fees for things like course materials, labs, and more. Most schools are happy to provide a detailed tuition schedule outlining all the program fees.

Program Length

For a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) as a WHNP, students are required to complete roughly 50 credit hours, which equates to around 2-3 years of study. Part-time and full-time options are usually available. For a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, around 80 credit hours are required for students starting out at the BSN level, and the program can typically be finished with 3-4 years of dedicated study.

Internship/Externship Opportunities

Both MSN and DNP women's health nurse practitioner programs require a minimum number of clinical hours. Therefore, most schools have relationships with hospitals and health centers in the vicinity from which students can choose a preceptor site. Prospective schools can provide a list of affiliations in the area, or students can inquire regarding the process to choose their own internship site.

Online/Campus Options

Due to high demand, many schools offer both online and campus-based WHNP programs. It's a wise idea to see what options a prospective school has before deciding on a program. Some schools even offer "hybrid" programs, where most coursework is completed online, but some lectures and labs are held on campus.

Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Degree Levels Offered

Nurses can choose between the MSN and DNP pathways in order to complete their WHNP education. Both programs provide the foundation for advanced practice in the field of women's health, but the DNP program provides more in-depth coursework. Students should weigh the pros and cons of both and consider long-term goals in order to choose the right degree level for them.

MSN Programs

An MSN women's health nurse practitioner program is designed to prepare nurses to provide care to women across the lifespan, and consists of general advanced nursing courses and specialty women's health courses. The curriculum may include classes such as Advanced Nursing Assessment, Antepartum Care, and Advanced Management of Women's Health. The University of Indianapolis, for example, offers an MSN level Women's Health Nurse Practitioner program.

DNP Programs

The WHNP doctoral program takes the MSN curriculum a step farther, offering more courses and focusing on nursing leadership. Classes in this program may include Simulation for Women's Health Care Providers, Childbearing Complications, and Gynecologic Management. The University of Utah is a good example of a school that offers a DNP Women's Health Nurse Practitioner program designed to provide comprehensive care to women.

Online Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Programs

Online programs have grown in popularity due to the increasingly busy lives of students, and WHNP programs are no exception. With work and family obligations, online women's health nurse practitioner programs give nurses the chance to earn an advanced nursing education on their own time. Keep in mind, however, that some minor campus trips may still be required with online WHNP programs, and that clinical hours must be performed at a preceptor site in person.

Advantages of an Online Program

There are numerous advantages to online women's health nurse practitioner programs. First and foremost, the convenience and flexibility of this type of program is second to none. Students are able to take courses from home, and generally on their own time schedule. For those who don't have a university nearby, or who don't want to have to relocate to complete their schooling, online programs are an invaluable option. All online students receive the benefit of reduced transportation costs, as parking, gas, and other commuting expenses are virtually eliminated with this type of program.

Program Accreditation

Much like their traditional, classroom-based counterparts, online women's health practitioner programs should be fully accredited. CCNE and ACEN accreditations are the ones to look for in order to ensure a reputable learning experience.

Costs and Length

Both MSN and DNP online WHNP programs have the same credit requirements as campus-based programs versions do, but generally allow for more flexibility in when and where the courses are completed. Due to this, total length of online program varies more, as students are able to customize the learning experience around their schedules and needs more readily. Tuition costs are also similar, and fall into the $500 to $1,000 per credit price range, though students may find it easier to find an online program that fits within the budget. As an example, the University of Minnesota offers an online Women's Health Nurse Practitioner DNP that charges approximately $973.75 per credit.

What Are the Admissions and Certification Requirements?

Students can generally expect the following admissions requirements from a WHNP program:

  • Minimum of a BSN from an accredited college or university
  • Official transcripts of all previous college work
  • One or more professional recommendations outlining clinical experience and ability
  • Valid RN license
  • Personal statement or essay
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher may be required

Certification as a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP-BC) can be obtained via examination by the National Certification Corporation. Eligibility requirements include:

  • Current U.S. RN license
  • Graduate of an accredited women's health nurse practitioner program (MSN or DNP)
  • Must take the exam within 8 years of program graduation
  • Official transcripts and diploma must be submitted

List of Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Programs

WHNP programs can be found from coast to coast, including the following schools listed below.

Select Your State:

Alabama

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

California

SchoolContact Information
California State University Fullerton
MSN Programs
800 N. State College Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831
(657) 278-2011
California State University Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90840
(562) 985-4111
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr
San Diego, CA 92182
(619) 594-5200

Colorado

SchoolContact Information
Colorado University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
12950 E. Montview Boulevard
Aurora, CO 80045
(303) 724-2152

District Of Columbia

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

Georgia

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

Illinois

SchoolContact Information
Loyola University of Chicago
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
1032 W. Sheridan Rd
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-3000
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

Indiana

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

Kentucky

SchoolContact Information
Frontier Nursing University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
195 School Street
Hyden, KY 41749
(606) 672-2312

Louisiana

SchoolContact Information
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
175 Sam Sibley Dr
Natchitoches, LA 71497
(318) 357-6011
Northwestern State University of Louisiana- Online
175 Sam Sibley Dr
Natchitoches, LA 71497
(318) 357-6011

Massachusetts

SchoolContact Information
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
(617) 552-4250
MGH Institute Of Health Professions
DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
36 1st Avenue
Boston, MA 02129
(617) 726-2947
Regis University
235 Wellesley Street
Weston, MA 02493
(781) 768-7000

Minnesota

SchoolContact Information
University of Minnesota
308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 624-9600

Missouri

SchoolContact Information
University of Missouri - St. Louis
DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
1 University Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63121
(314) 516-5000
University Of Missouri Kansas City
5100 Rockhill Rd
Kansas City, MO 64110
(816) 235-1000

Nebraska

SchoolContact Information
University of Nebraska Medical Center
DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
42nd and Emile
Omaha, NE 68198
(402) 559-4000

New Jersey

SchoolContact Information
Rutgers School of Nursing
180 University Avenue
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 972-4307

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
100 Nicolls Rd
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(631) 632-6000
Suny Downstate Medical School
450 Clarkson Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11203
(718) 270-1000
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
12 Capen Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
(716) 645-2000

North Carolina

SchoolContact Information
Duke University School of Nursing
307 Trent Drive
Durham, NC 27710
(919) 684-3786

Ohio

SchoolContact Information
Case Western Reserve University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
10900 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 368-2000
Kent State University
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
1375 University Esplanade
Kent, OH 44242
(330) 672-7930
The Ohio State University
1585 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
(614) 292-4041

Pennsylvania

SchoolContact Information
Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions
1601 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 895-2000
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
418 Curie Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-8281

Tennessee

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

Texas

SchoolContact Information
Texas Woman's University
304 Administration Dr.
Denton, TX 76204
(940) 898-2000

Utah

SchoolContact Information
University of Utah
10 South 2000 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
(801) 581-3414
Westminster College
1840 S 1300 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84105
(801) 484-7651

Virginia

SchoolContact Information
Hampton University
100 E Queen St
Hampton, VA 23668
(757) 727-5000

West Virginia

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