How Long Does It Take To Become A Nurse Practitioner?

With the availability of scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid, those interested in nursing are in luck. As a nurse, one of your options for advancement in your career is to become a nurse practitioner. With this certification, you’ll qualify for higher-paying jobs with more responsibilities. Getting a degree to become a nurse practitioner does take time, though, which is important to realize before you start any program, be it at a campus college or online.

To become a nurse practitioner, you need at least a master’s degree from an accredited school, with some places requiring a doctorate in nursing (laws in some countries and states vary). How long it takes you to get a master’s degree depends on your current level of education, your student status (full- or part-time), and your program of choice.

The quickest way to become a nurse practitioner is to participate in an accelerated master’s degree program, which will qualify you to work in most states. Usually, a master’s degree in any field adds two years of full-time schooling to your education, but with an accelerated program, you’ll complete courses at the same school where you got your associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree and can cut up to a year of time off of your schooling.

In any case, you’ll need to be certified as a registered nurse before you can be certified as a nurse practitioner. If you participate in an accelerated master’s degree program, you can be certified as soon as you receive an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree level of education. However, you may have already gone through one of these degree programs (for full-time students, an associate’s degree usually takes two years, while a bachelor’s degree usually takes four years). For nurses with a bachelor’s degree who aren’t in an accelerated master’s degree program, it typically takes two additional years to get a master’s degree.

If you opted just to get your associate’s degree, you can take one of two routes. First, you can go on to get your bachelor’s degree, which will typically take an additional two years, and then move on to get a master’s degree, adding a total of three to four years of full time education to your schedule. A quicker way to get your master’s degree if you have an associate’s degree is to join an ADN-to-MSN bridge program. With this type of program, you’ll move more quickly through the coursework, but the disadvantage is that you may not actually be awarded a bachelor’s of science in nursing, so if you’re working as you go to school, it will take longer to qualify for a pay raise or better job.

Getting a doctorate, of course, takes longer, and you’ll be looking at more time if you opt for part-time schooling instead of full time schooling. Any way you slice it, becoming a nurse practitioner takes time, so make sure you’re ready for the commitment.

The Best Nurse Practitioner School Programs

Walden University
Doctor of Nursing Practice
RN to MSN: Adult Gerontology NP
RN to MSN: Adult Gerontology Acute Care NP
Walden University — Students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice online program from Walden University study advanced methods in the practice of nursing across a variety of healthcare environments. Registered nurses with a master’s degree in nursing are able to obtain their diploma in an accelerated format.
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Kaplan University
MSN in Nurse Practitioners
Kaplan University — The Kaplan University MSN for Nurse Practitioners program prepares students to apply advanced methods in nursing in a dynamic healthcare environment. Courses include Advanced Nursing Roles, Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Nursing, and Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in a Diverse Community.
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South University
MSN in Nurse Practitioner
DNP
South University — The South University Master of Science in Nursing program offers a Nurse Practitioner specialization which is designed for Registered Nurses who wish to advance their skills, manage their patients care, and make critical decisions using evidence-based information. The program is offered online.
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Grand Canyon University
MSN in Nurse Education
MSN in Nurse Leadership
MBA/MSN in Leadership
Grand Canyon University — The Grand Canyon University College of Nursing and Health Sciences offers a wide variety of Master's programs tailored to meet the students specific interests. Specializations include Education, Nurse Leadership, and Leadership in Health Care Systems.
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Georgetown University
MSN in Family Nursing
MSN in Midwifery
Georgetown University — Georgetown University's online MS in nursing (MSN) programs in family nursing and midwifery follow the School of Nursing and Health Studies nursing model, which includes a mission of providing morally reflective healthcare scholars and leaders who strive to improve the wellbeing and health of all people with sensitivity to cultural differences and issues of justice.
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