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Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs in 2018: The Top 50 Schools (Online and On-Campus)

Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs in 2018: The Top 50 Schools (Online and On-Campus)

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have completed additional coursework that grants them a license to prescribe medications, order and perform diagnostic tests and treat a variety of acute or chronic illnesses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse practitioners earn about $108,000 annually. The job outlook for nurse practitioners through 2026 is expected to grow at a faster than average percentage of 31% due to the aging population of people born between 1950 and 1964 (“baby boomers”). In fact, nurse practitioners are among the top five jobs (including physicians and surgeons) that experts expect will lack enough qualified individuals to fill all open positions over the next decade.

What Do Nurse Practitioners Do?

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners defines a nurse practitioner as an autonomous, licensed clinician focused on managing patients’ health conditions and preventing and treating diseases. In addition to diagnosing chronic and acute conditions, nurse practitioners also prescribe pharmaceutical medications, maintain patient records, offer health and treatment counseling to patients and educate patients about preventing disease and choosing good lifestyle choices.

Nurse practitioners may also specialize in the following medical fields:

  • Immunology/allergy
  • Dermatology
  • Cardiac
  • Geriatrics
  • Endocrinology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Emergency room
  • Pediatrics
  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics
  • Urology
Nurse practitioners are licensed by state licensing boards and must obtain both an RN and NP licensure. Popular certifying organizations include:

50 Best Nurse Practitioner Programs

25 Accredited Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. Ball State University

Located in Muncie, Indiana, Ball State offers three types of nurse practitioner programs: doctorate of nursing practice, master of science in nursing and a post-master’s certificate in nursing. Tuition is around $26,000 annually. The Princeton Review has named Ball State as one of the best universities in the Midwest for nearly 15 years. Ball State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission through 2024.

2. Drexel University

Drexel University has five campuses throughout the city of Philadelphia, PA offering 18 nurse practitioner programs for around $52,000 in tuition. Some of their NP programs include Gerontology Acute Care NP (post-master’s certificate), Gerontology Primary Care NP (post-master’s certificate), Doctor of Nursing Practice and Family Nurse Practitioner. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing provides accreditation to all of Drexel University’s nursing programs.

3.  University of Connecticut

UC’s campus is located in Storrs, Connecticut and offers an online master’s degree for RNs wishing to become nurse practitioners. The master of science in neonatal NP/neonatal clinical nurse specialist degree allows nurses to specialize in neonatal care. Tuition is around $40,000 and the University of Connecticut is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

4. Duquesne University

Duquesne U. has a campus in Pittsburgh, PA and offers three nurse practitioner online programs: master of science in nursing (family NP), doctor of nursing practice and a post-master’s certificate (family NP). Tuition is approximately $37,000.  For over a decade, Duquesne has ranked among leading national schools in the U.S. News and World Report’s listings of best colleges. Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing.

5. Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi

Located in Corpus Christi, TX next to the Gulf of Mexico, Texas A & M University offers a family nurse practitioner master’s degree for around $16,000 in tuition costs. Texas A & M is accredited by the Southern Association of  Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The university’s website also notes that this accreditation allows credits to transfer reliably to other regionally accredited colleges and universities.

6.  East Carolina University

East Carolina University’s campus is located in Greenville, North Carolina. ECU offers four different online nurse practitioner programs: post-doctoral certificate in family NP, post doctoral certificate in gerontology (primary NP), master of science in nursing (mental health/psychiatric NP) and post-master’s certificate in neonatal clinical nurse specialist. Tuition is around $24,000. ECU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

7. Seton Hall University

Located in South Orange, New Jersey, Seton Hall University, one of the best BSN programs in NJ, offers two online nurse practitioner programs: gerontology nurse practitioner (acute care) and gerontology nurse practitioner (primary care). Graduate tuition fees are $1,259 per credit. All nursing programs at Seton Hall are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

8. Columbus State University

CSU’s campus is located in Columbus, Georgia and offers an online master’s of science in nursing (family nurse practitioner) degree. Tuition for graduate-level programs is $14,000. Columbus State is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

9. Tennessee Tech University

Cookville, Tennessee is home to Tennessee Tech University where registered nurse can enroll in an online master’s of science nursing practitioner program to eventually work as a family nurse practitioner. Graduate tuition is $26,000 and this university is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

10. University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississipi is a dual-campus higher learning institution with campuses in Long Beach and Hattiesburg, Mississippi. They offer an online master’s of science degree in nursing (family NP) at a cost of $11,000. USM is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

11. Delta State University

Delta State University is located in Cleveland, MS and offers several online RN to NP programs: a master’s of science in nursing (family NP), a doctor of nursing practice (post-master’s family NP), doctor of nursing practice (BSN to DNP) and a doctor of nursing practice (post-master’s non-family NP). Graduate tuition ranges between $7000 and $9000. DSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

12. Nicholls State University

NSU’s campus is in Thibodaux, Louisiana and provides two online nurse practitioner programs: master’s degree (family NP) and master’s degree (mental health/psychiatric NP). Tuition is $10,000. Nicholls State is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

13. Cedarville  University

Cedarville University’s campus is located in Cedarville, Ohio and offers an online master’s of science in nursing (family NP). Tuition for graduate programs is around $8000. Cedarville U. is accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission.

14. Boise State University

BSU’s campus is in Boise, Idaho and offers the following nurse practitioner programs: master of nursing in gerontology (acute), master or nursing in gerontology (primary care) and master of science in nursing (gerontology, primary care NP). Tuition is around $25,000. Boise State U. is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

15. Purdue University Northwest

Purdue University NW is a dual campus university with locations in Hammond and Westville, Indiana. Purdue offers a master of science in nursing (family NP) at approximately $14,000 for tuition fees. This university is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission.

16. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

NWSUL has a campus in Natchitoches, Louisiana and offers several online nurse practitioner programs: master of science in nursing (family NP), master of science in nursing (primary care pediatric NP) and master of science in nursing (women’s health NP). Graduate tuition is around $20,000. Northwestern State University of LA is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

17. Creighton University

Creighton University’s campus is in Omaha, Nebraska but the school has plans to build a health sciences campus in Phoenix, Arizona. Online nurse practitioner programs offered by Creighton U. include a post-graduate certificate in nursing (gerontology acute care), post-grad certificate in nursing (family NP) and a post-grad certificate in nursing (neonatal NP). Tuition for grad students is $17,000. Creighton University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission.

18. Gonzaga University

Spokane, Washington is home to Gonzaga University where students are known as “ZAG” students. Gonzaga offers two nurse practitioner degrees: a master’s degree in nursing (family NP) and a master’s degree in psychiatric mental health (NP).  Tuition is approximately $17,000. Gonzaga U. is accredited by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

19. Clarion University

Located in St. Clarion, Pennsylvania, Clarion University offers an online post-master’s degree in nursing (family NP). Tuition is $25,000 for graduate students. Clarion U. is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

20. Old Dominion University

The campus of Old Dominion is in Norfolk, VA. This university has two online nurse practitioner degrees: a master of science in nursing (neonatal NP) and a master of science in nursing (pediatric NP). Graduate tuition is $30,000. Old Dominion University is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

21. Baylor University

Baylor University campus is located in Waco, Texas and offers the following programs: a doctorate of nursing practice (NP administrator), master of science in nursing (family NP) and a post-master’s certificate in nursing (family NP). Tuition for graduate students is $46,000. Baylor University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission.

22. Ohio State University

A sprawling university campus in Columbus, OH, Ohio State University is NOT the same as Ohio University. They are two different universities in Ohio. To obtain an NP license, registered nurses can enroll in the master of science in nursing program (family NP) at OHU. Tuition is $30,000 for grad students. Ohio State U. is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission.

23. University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas’ campus is in Fayetteville, Arkansas. This school offers an online doctor of nursing degree (geriatric acute care NP) and a doctor of nursing practice (family NP) degree. Tuition is around $20,000. The University of Arkansas is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission.

24. University of Massachusetts-Boston

Located on William T. Morrissey Blvd in Boston, MA, UMB offers registered nurses to obtain a post-master’s certificate in gerontology (NP) and a master’s degree in nursing (family NP) online. Tuition for graduate students is $35,000. The University of Massachusetts in Boston is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.

25. Wright State University

Wright State University is in Fairborn, OH and has an online master’s of science degree in nursing (family NP) available to registered nurses. Tuition is about $25,000. This university is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission.

25 Affordable On-Campus RN to Nurse Practitioner Programs (Private and Public Universities and Colleges)

1. University of North Dakota

The UND campus in Grand Forks, ND offers a five-semester master’s of nursing degree (family NP) for $6,300 in tuition and fees. According to their website, the University of North Dakota is listed as among the leading 25 most innovative schools, along with MIT, Harvard and Stanford.

2. Purdue University Calumet

Located in Calumet, Indiana, Purdue University allows registered nurses living out of state to perform clinical hours in states they carry licenses. Purdue offers a master’s degree in nursing (gerontology NP) and a master’s of nursing (family NP). Tuition is $6000. Purdue University Calumet is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

3. Western Carolina University

WCU’s campus is in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Their nursing department offers a master’s of science in nursing (family NP) and a doctor of nursing practice degree. Tuition is around $7000. In addition to being accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges,  WCU is also accredited by 10 other nationally recognized accreditation agencies.

4. Brigham Young University

Located in Provo, Utah, Brigham Young University offers a master’s of science in nursing degree (family NP) at a tuition cost of $6500. As with all MSN degrees, nurses can opt for completing a thesis or an evidence-based academic paper to obtain their degree. BYU is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

5. West Virginia Wesleyan College

Buckhannon WV is home to West Virginia Wesleyan College, where RNs can obtain a master’s of nursing degree to work as a family nurse practitioner. Tuition is around $5200. WVW is accreditated by the Higher Learning Commission, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

6. University of Texas Health Science Center

The campus of UT’s Health Science Center is in San Antonio, TX. Registered nurses can earn their family nurse practitioner license by completing the university’s master’s of science in nursing degree. Tuition is currently at an affordable $4000.  UT is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

7. Florida Atlantic University

Campus location for FAU is Boca Raton, Florida. RNs can enroll in the university’s master of science in nursing (family NP), master’s of science in nursing (gerontology NP) or their doctor’s of nursing practitioner. Tuition for students living in Florida is $7000. Tuition for students living out of state is nearly $18,000. Florida Atlantic University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

8. University of Wyoming

Located in Laramie, WY, the University of Wyoming offers registered nurses a master’s of science in nursing (family NP) degree that is primarily online but incorporating mandatory attendance periodically at the campus. Nurses must complete clinical rotations in southern Montana, central Colorado or anywhere in Wyoming. Tuition is $5500. The University of Wyoming has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission for over 80 years.

9. Columbia University in the City of New York

Columbia University is a private university offering a master’s of science in nursing (gerontology primary care NP), a master’s of science in nursing (gerontology acute care NP), a master’s of science in nursing (pediatric primary care NP) and a master’s of science in nursing (psychiatric mental health NP). Tuition is higher than tuition at public universities–$38,000. However, private universities often have additional benefits some students may want or need to complete their degree. Columbia University’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

10. East Carolina University

Greenville, North Carolina is home to East Carolina University’s campus. ECU offers a master’s of science in nursing (family NP) and a doctor of nursing (NP) for nurses wanting to work as nurse practitioners. Tuition is $6500. The school’s website notes that references may be required for nurses applying for admission to a nursing practitioner course. East Carolina University’s nursing department is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.

11. Pace University

Pace University has two campuses in lower Manhattan and Westchester County, NY. They offer a master’s of science in nursing (family NP), a master’s of science in nursing (acute care NP) and a post-master’s NP certification. Pace is a private university with tuition costs around $31,000. Pace University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In addition. all PU degree programs have been registered with the NYS Education Department.

12. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

Texas Tech U’s main campus is located in Lubbock, Texas. TTU also has campuses in Permian Basin, El Paso and Highland Lakes, TX. Registered nurses can obtain a master’s of science in nursing degree to be gerontology acute care nurse practitioners, family NPs or pediatric NPs. Tuition for students living in Texas is $8300. Texas Tech is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

13. Prairie View A&M

Prairie View’s campus is in Prairie View, Texas. Programs leading to NP licensing include a master’s of science in nursing (family NP) and a post-master’s NP degree. Tuition including fees is $6700. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has awarded accreditation to PVUAM’s undergraduate and graduate programs.

14. Case Western Reserve University

Case Western is a Cleveland, Ohio university with master’s of science in nursing programs that provide licensing for being a family, gerontology, pediatric and acute care nurse practitioner. Tuition is approximately $15,000. Case Western Reserve University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1913.

15. Georgia Regents University

GRU’s campus is in Augusta, Georgia. The university recently incorporated master’s of science in nursing degrees specializing in pediatrics, geriatrics and family practice. They also offer post-master’s in nursing degrees (doctor of NP). Tuition is $6300. Georgia Regents U. is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges.

16. George Washington University

Located in Washington, D.C., GWU has master’s of science in nursing degrees for nursing wishing to work as family nurse practitioners. Tuition is approximately $20,000 (full time). George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education  and the  Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs,

17. Montana State University

The campus of MSU is in Bozeman, Montana. RNs can select the master’s of science in nursing (family NP) or the post-master’s of science in nursing (family NP certificate). Tuition is around $30,000 for commuter students. Montana State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

18. University of Tulsa

Registered nurse can take NP courses at the University of Tulsa to earn their nurse practitioner licensing. Tuition is about $11,000. UT’s post-master’s of science in nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and approved by the state’s Board of Nursing. Students obtain clinical experience hours in the University of Tulsa’s Health Clinic as well as clinics in northeast OK and in Tulsa.

19. University of North Georgia

UNG has five campuses in the following Georgia locations: Blue Ridge, Cumming, DahlonegaGainsville and Oconee. The university offers a master’s of science in nursing degree (family NP) and reports it has achieved a 100% pass rate for certification and licensing exams taken by nurse practitioner students. Tuition is currently $5600. The University of North Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Georgia Board of Nursing.

20. Youngstown State University

The campus of YSU is located in Youngstown, OH. Registered nurses can receive their nurse practitioner licensing by completing the university’s master’s of science in nursing degree (family NP). Tuition for in-state students is about $8100. Youngstown State U. is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

21. University of California, Irvine

Located in the economically dynamic Irvine community, the University of California is a leading employer in Orange County and contributes over $5 billion every year to Irvine and surrounding areas. UCI has a master’s of science in nursing that specializes in family, acute and geriatric nurse practitioner fields. Graduate tuition is approximately $17,000. The University of California in Irvine is accredited by the Senior Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

22. Missouri State University

MSU’s campus is in Springfield, Missouri. Nurse practitioner courses include a master’s in science in nursing (family NP) and a doctor’s in nursing practice (DNP). Tuition and fees come to $5400 for in-state students. MSU’s website states the school has a 99% pass rate on post-graduate examination for nursing certificates. Missouri State University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Higher Learning Commission.

23. Gardner-Webb University

Located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, Gardner-Webb University offers a master of science in nursing (family NP) for around $16,000 in tuition and fees. They also have a doctor of nursing degree program available to nurses wishing to work as NPs or administrative directors. Gardner-Webb University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Commission on Colleges (regional accrediting).

24. Seattle University

Seattle University’s campus is in Seattle, Washington. The university was recently named a top ten western university by the U.S. News and Princeton Review for the 18th straight year. Registered nurses can become nurse practitioners by completing SU’s master’s of science in nursing program (family NP). Tuition for both undergraduate and graduate students is $14,000 per semester. Seattle University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

25. Grambling State University

Grambling State’s campus is in Grambling, Louisiana. The university offers a master’s of science in nursing (family NP) and pediatric nursing practitioner for $6400 in tuition and fees. GSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Obtaining Nurse Practitioner Licensing after Graduation

Following completion of a nurse practitioner program, nurses will need to obtain national certification by taking specialized examinations given by a certifying agency. States individually choose the certifications and/or organizations they will accept. States are also allowed to approve certifying agencies and certification examinations. Some states may reference the American Board of Nursing Specialties or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.

In some cases, nurse practitioner graduates may be issued temporary permits by state boards that let them practice while certification is pending. If a nurse fails their examination, this will usually invalidate their temporary credential.

Currently there are five states that do not require nurse practitioners take a national certification exam–California, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas and New York.

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