Most nurse practitioners build their training in a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. Nurses with these degrees often apply them in primary practice roles, such as that of a nurse practitioner. Online nurse practitioner programs allow MSN and DNP students to obtain the knowledge and skills they need to become nurse practitioners, while also providing them with the flexibility to maintain their professional careers and fulfill their other extracurricular responsibilities.
A typical MSN program takes about two years for full-time students to complete, while a typical DNP program takes three to four years for full-time students. Students may have to attend occasional orientations or training on-campus, and complete clinical hours in healthcare settings in their geographical areas. Aspiring nurse practitioners (NPs) must usually choose between NP specializations, such as adult-gerontology, family nurse, neonatal nurse, pediatric nurse, or psychiatric mental health nurse.
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15 Best Online MSN Programs for Nurse Practitioners
College Choice Score: 100
Tuition per credit hour: $1,568
Duke University faculty developed the institution’s online course catalog specifically for distance learners, offering dozens of flexible classes and programs for students to take from remote locations, at their convenience. Duke’s master of science in nursing (MSN) represents one such program. It offers a variety of majors, including several online nurse practitioner programs. Aspiring nurse practitioners at Duke University can select from MSN concentrations in adult-gerontology nurse practitioner (acute or primary care), family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner (acute or primary care), psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, or women’s health nurse practitioner.
College Choice Score: 86.3
Tuition per credit hour: $1,863
Georgetown University’s online school of nursing, also called Nursing@Georgetown, offers an MSN program with several specialization options, including multiple online nurse practitioner programs. Graduate nursing students can choose between practitioner concentrations including adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nurse-midwifery/women’s health nurse practitioner, or women’s health nurse practitioner. Georgetown’s online MSN represents just one of several master’s programs the university offers online — prospective distance-learning students may also opt to study real estate, sports industry management, or technology management. Distance learners at Georgetown tackle the same rigorous, relevant curricula as their on-campus counterparts.
Ohio State University
College Choice Score: 69.6
Tuition per credit hour: $746
Ohio State Online offers flexible, remote courses for students to complete at their convenience. The university builds these courses with working professionals in mind, allowing them to continue working while pursuing their degree or specialized credential. OSU’s MSN program offers four online nurse practitioner programs: family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and clinical nurse leader. The online MSN options all provide graduates with knowledge and skills through coursework, clinical experience, and evidence-based practice. No matter which MSN track you choose, you will graduate prepared to sit for specialty certification.
George Washington University
College Choice Score: 68.6
Tuition per credit hour: $1,030
MSN students at George Washington University undertake their online nurse practitioner programs in a hybrid format, combining online courses with in-person training on-campus. GW nursing students learn from industry-leading faculty in a flexible online format and come away from their program with hands-on, clinical experience. Choose from the following specializations: adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (available in either acute care or primary care), family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership and management, nurse-midwifery, online RN-MSN, or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. GW also offers an RN to MSN program for nurses who have already obtained their registered nurse licensure.
St. Xavier University
College Choice Score: 67.6
Tuition per credit hour: $690
Saint Xavier University offers online programs in its nursing and health sciences school and its education department. Its nursing programs include an online MSN, which aims to produce graduates who can step into leadership positions and act as a trustworthy resource for their patients, peers, and supervisors. MSN students at Saint Xavier focus on their management, business, and clinical skills, and can choose between three tracks: clinical leadership, executive leadership, and nurse educator. U.S. News & World Report ranked Saint Xavier’s online MSN program as the best online master’s in nursing program in both 2017 and 2018.
Georgia College and State University
College Choice Score: 59.8
Tuition per credit hour: $373
Georgia College prides itself on small class sizes and diverse major offerings, combining classroom knowledge with real-world experience. The college’s school of nursing offers all of its programs in a fully online format, with minimal face-to-face requirements. MSN students can choose between the following concentrations: family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and nurse educator After graduating, MSN holders from Georgia College qualify for career opportunities in management, administration, teaching, and advanced-practice clinical positions. To participate in one of Georgia College’s online nurse practitioner programs, you must have computer access, preferably in your home, plus Microsoft Office software.
Stony Brook University SUNY
College Choice Score: 57.8
Tuition per credit hour: $925
Stony Brook University boasts an online learning experience that’s nearly 15% more affordable than the national average for public universities, and 50% more affordable than for-profit institutions. Available online programs include coaching, educational leadership, higher education administration, human resources management, liberal studies, nursing, nutrition, and physician assistant. Students pursuing an online MSN at Stony Brook may choose between 10 specialized programs, including nursing education, nursing leadership, nurse-midwifery, and several online nurse practitioner programs. If you already hold an associate degree in nursing and want to pursue your master’s at Stony Brook, consider its registered nurse baccalaureate to master’s program.
University of South Carolina
College Choice Score: 54.9
Tuition per credit hour: $1,303
University of South Carolina offers online master’s degrees in education, engineering, health information technology, public health, and nursing. Nursing graduate programs in advance practice nursing and leadership specialties are available primarily online, but those in advanced practice program specialties may have to complete their clinical rotations on campus, at least twice per semester. To complete your MSN at USC, you must complete the program plus a three-hour applied research course or a six-hour thesis course. You much achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0, pass the MSN comprehensive assessment, complete clinical hours, and finish requirements within 14 semesters (or 4.5 years).
College Choice Score: 52
Tuition per credit hour: $1,218
The online MSN program at Duquesne University doesn’t require applicants to submit their GRE scores or an application fee. The program offers specializations in family (individual across the lifespan) nurse practitioner, forensic nursing, and nursing education and faculty role. Students may also choose to further focus their MSN on nursing education or transcultural nursing, which requires an additional nine credits of theory courses. Online students at Duquesne enjoy access to advisers, the university’s writing center and library, and online learning tutorials, plus career services and a peer network. Some online courses require synchronous class participation, but most offer flexible distance learning.
University of Cincinnati
College Choice Score: 49
Tuition per credit hour: $655
University of Cincinnati offers online degrees in a plethora of subject areas, many of which rank as the best online programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. UC’s online MSN program ranked No. 11 among online graduate nursing programs in 2018. MSN applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree — those with a BSN may apply for the MSN program, and those with a non-nursing bachelor’s may apply through the accelerated direct-entry MSN program. Students may choose to specialize in adult-gerontology nurse practitioner (acute or primary care), family nurse practitioner, neonatal nurse practitioner, nurse-midwifery, or women’s health nurse practitioner.
College Choice Score: 47.1
Tuition per credit hour: $775
Graceland University’s online campus offers five undergraduate degrees, eight master’s degrees and one doctoral degree (a doctor of nursing practice). Prospective students pursuing an MSN can choose between two online programs at Graceland: the RN to MSN track (for those with their RN licensure) or the MSN track (for those interested in focusing on either family nurse practitioner or adult-gerontology acute nurse care practitioner). Students can complete their MSN degree at Graceland through either full- or part-time study, working with online cohorts, through on-campus focus sessions, and in guided practicum experiences to gain the skills and knowledge they need.
University of Alabama Birmingham
College Choice Score: 45.1
Tuition per credit hour: $1,157
University of Alabama offers all the online nurse practitioner programs you could want. Prospective MSN students choose between concentrations in primary and acute care, plus focuses on subspecialties or advanced roles. These tracks exist as hybrid programs, integrating online components with certain on-campus or field requirements. Aspiring healthcare professionals often choose UAB because the university is regarded as a world-renowned medical center, prioritizing medical research and connecting its students with leaders in the medical field. Online students at UAB learn from the same faculty as their on-campus counterparts, and the university’s online programs hold the same accreditation as those on-campus.
Ball State University
College Choice Score: 41.2
Tuition per credit hour: $579
Aspiring nurse practitioners can obtain their MSN from Ball State University through its family nurse practitioner program, available entirely online. The university also offers an RN to MSN option for students who already hold RN licensure. Students in this program can complete all 36 credits of their coursework online, but they must also complete a 180-hour practicum in an associate or bachelor’s on-campus nursing program during their last semester. They may choose to complete these hours at a campus in their geographical area. Successful candidates gain admission to Ball State’s graduate school, plus the MSN program itself.
East Carolina University
College Choice Score: 35.3
Tuition per credit hour: $957
ECU’s online program offerings include more than 90 degrees and certificates, marking it as a state leader for distance education in North Carolina. The university’s MSN program includes several online nurse practitioner programs, including specializations for aspiring adult-gerontology nurse practitioners, neonatal nurse practitioners, and family nurse practitioners. Graduates can exercise nursing leadership and critically test nursing fields. They are also able to integrate theories and research from the nursing field to help guide their clinical practice and work independently in professional settings. MSN holders from ECU are prepared to pursue a doctorate degree, as well.
Old Dominion University
College Choice Score: 34.5
Tuition per credit hour: $538
ODU offers several bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, plus endorsement and certificate programs. U.S. News & World Report regularly ranks ODU’s nursing school as part of the top 25% of online graduate nursing programs in the country. The university boasts a 100% certification pass rate for nurse anesthesia and family NP graduates, and 99% of nursing graduates find employment within one year. Online nurse practitioner programs at ODU include family NP, pediatric NP, and neonatal NP. Applicants must submit MAT or GRE scores unless their GPA is 3.5 or above, plus three letters of recommendation, an essay, and transcripts.
10 Best Online DNP Programs for Nurse Practitioners
College Choice Score: 100
Tuition per credit hour: $1,568
Post-BSN nurses who want to advance their practice might consider a doctor of nursing practice (DNP), which prepares graduates to lead in interdisciplinary healthcare settings and improve nursing systems of care, quality, safety, and patient outcomes. Duke’s DNP program equips students to improve their systems of care to impact patient outcomes, make changes to enhance their quality of care, and inform their practice using published evidence. DNP students at Duke enjoy a flexible enough program to continue working in advanced practice positions. The DNP program includes two specializations: executive leadership and nurse anesthesia.
Johns Hopkins University
College Choice Score: 98.9
Tuition per credit hour: $1,509
Johns Hopkins offers several online and hybrid DNP tracks, including several online nurse practitioner programs. DNP students can choose between the following online nurse practitioner tracks: adult-gerontological primary care nurse practitioner, family primary care nurse practitioner, and pediatric primary care nurse practitioner. Available hybrid programs include adult-gerontological acute care nurse practitioner (with an emphasis in HIV available) and family primary care nurse practitioner with HIV. Hopkins’ online degrees still require “immersions,” or limited in-person requirements at the university’s Baltimore campus. These courses offer online coursework and in-person clinical learning experiences with Hopkins faculty. Hybrid courses combine online and on-campus elements.
College Choice Score: 92.4
Tuition per credit hour: $1,066
Rush University approved its standards for online course design and online teaching in 2018, now ensuring that the school’s online students receive the same quality learning experience as its on-campus students. All of Rush’s nursing programs are available at the graduate level, including several DNP programs. Online nurse practitioner programs at Rush include adult-gero acute care, adult-gero primary care, family nursing, neonatal, pediatric acute care, primary care pediatric, psychiatric-mental health, public health, transformative leadership: population health, and transformative leadership: systems. Graduates from this program should be able to acquire, use, and interpret information; communicate effectively; work competently; and behave professionally.
College Choice Score: 84.8
Tuition per credit hour: $1,863
Nursing@Georgetown encompasses a distance learning DNP program, catering to registered nurses with their BSN. Students participating in the BSN to DNP degree can choose between a variety of online nurse practitioner programs: adult-gerontology acute care NP, family NP, nurse-midwifery/women’s health NP, and women’s health NP. Regardless of their chosen specialization, upon graduation, DNP students qualify to sit for a specialty certification examination. Students with the AG-ACNP specialization are prepared to sit for the adult-gerontology acute care NP exam, and those with the FNP specialization can sit for the family nurse NP certification exam.
University of Pittsburgh
College Choice Score: 61.7
Tuition per credit hour: $1,039
University of Pittsburgh’s school of nursing offers online DNP programs to applicants who already hold their master’s degrees in the subjects in which they want to pursue their doctorates. UP makes an exception for the health systems executive leadership DNP, for which students’ master’s can be in a related field. The university’s DNP program is relatively new but already offers several online nurse practitioner programs through its nurse practitioner major: adult-gerontology primary or acute care, family (individual across the lifespan), neonatal, pediatric primary care, and psychiatric mental health. NP major graduates qualify to sit for discipline-specific national certification exams.
Medical University of South Carolina
College Choice Score: 59.8
Tuition per credit hour: $985
MUSC offers its DNP program primarily online, with the exception of a few courses that require campus visits. Distance learners receive 90 days’ notice of campus visits. Graduates leave the program with both their MSN and their DNP, and qualify to practice at the highest clinical level in primary care settings, nursing schools, public health agencies, and hospitals. The program includes four online nurse practitioner programs, all with a primary care focus: psychiatric mental health NP, adult-gerontology NP, pediatric NP, and family NP. Advanced practice nurses also have a post-master’s option. Online courses use both synchronous and asynchronous formats.
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
College Choice Score: 58.7
Tuition per credit hour: $750
UMass’ online DNP program was among the first of its kind in the U.S. and has earned regional and national awards since its 2006 founding. The program prepares its students to apply advanced practice knowledge and skills in patient management and leading healthcare systems. Graduates are also equipped to evaluate and apply research and enhance clinical outcomes to help create more effective healthcare practices. Online nurse practitioner programs at UMass include family nurse practitioner, adult/gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, and psychiatric nurse practitioner. The DNP program is 100% online — distance learners can arrange clinical internships in their geographical areas.
College Choice Score: 53.3
Tuition per credit hour: $953
Drexel University launched its first online courses nearly 20 years ago and has since built a roster of more than 140 online degree and certificate programs. Each uses the same curriculum and faculty as its on-campus counterpart. Drexel’s online DNP program prepares students to take on leadership roles as executives or practitioners and comprises 500 total clinical hours. DNP students must make in-person appearances at orientation in their first term, and global immersion in the spring quarter of their second year. Applicants must hold a master’s degree in any field (for non-nursing master’s degree holders, their bachelor’s must be in nursing).
Loyola University Chicago
College Choice Score: 52.2
Tuition per credit hour: $1,103
Loyola University Chicago prides itself on providing high-quality, rigorous online learning opportunities, infused with Jesuit tradition. The university’s first online programs became available in 1998, and have since expanded to include 21 graduate programs, plus seven adult degrees and 18 certificate programs. Loyola’s DNP program offers three tracks: post-MSN general, post-MSN informatics and outcomes, and post-BSN infection prevention. Students can complete all their coursework online but must complete two intensive weekend immersions at Loyola’s Chicago campus, plus a clinical practicum. DNP graduates are positioned to take on advanced roles as nursing practitioners.
College Choice Score: 41.3
Tuition per credit hour: $720
Graceland University offers several online bachelor’s and master’s degree, but its only online doctorate is the DNP. The program works to prepare nurses for roles in scholarship and advanced practice and to skillfully apply theory and research, advanced clinical practice, and evidence-based practice to ultimately transform healthcare systems. Graduates qualify to assume complex leadership roles, advocate for social justice, and evaluate policy, along with conducting research and applying research to their nursing practice. DNP applicants must demonstrate to Graceland that they completed practice hours in their master’s or certification program upon admission to the university’s program.