How to Become a Nurse Practitioner Online

As a nurse, one of the best ways to advance in your career is to pursue a master’s degree and become a nurse practitioner. While this education will take at least a year (and more than one year in some cases), the time and money you sink into your education will lead to better jobs, higher salaries, and more rewarding options for your career as a nurse. So why don’t all nurses become nurse practitioners? Many are worried that they don’t have the time to work as a nurse and also take classes. This becomes easier if you go to school online, and luckily, there are a number of accredited online nurse practitioner programs available.

Your first step to becoming a nurse practitioner through an online program is to find out your state’s nurse practitioner requirements. This is a state-controlled profession, so regulations may vary a bit from location to location. No matter where you live, however, you need a master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner. You can enter an RN-to-MSN program if you currently have just an associate’s degree in nursing, or you can enter a regular master’s degree program if you currently have your bachelor’s degree in nursing. There are also MSN programs for people who have bachelor’s degrees in other fields.

After you learn about the nurse practitioner requirements in your state and determine your program options, you can begin looking at the online schools that fit your needs. Although there is no campus to tour, you can still “tour” the school by getting a sneak peak into classes and asking lots of questions. Get a feel for all of the programs you’re considering and apply to your top few choices. Every school has specific application requirements, even online, so be mindful of that when you apply if you want to be accepted!

Once you’ve been accepted into a program, the real work begins. You can choose to go to school as a part-time student if you plan to still continue working full-time, in which case, your degree program could take six years or more. As a full-time student, it could take as little as one year to get your degree. For most full-time and part-time students, it takes between a year and a half and four years to get a master’s degree and become a nurse practitioner. Along the way, you’ll take classes online as well as participate in clinical learning for hands-on experience.

At the end of your education, you’ll be required to take a nursing exam in order to get your license as a nurse practitioner. You’ll still be a registered nurse, but you’ll now be able to diagnose and treat a number of medical conditions, prescribe medications, and even work independently of a doctor in many states. Getting a master’s degree in any field isn’t easy because of the work and dedication it takes to prepare for your career at this level, but becoming a nurse practitioner online doesn’t have to be more difficult than taking classes at a typical college campus.

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
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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Bradley University
MSN to FNP
BSN to DNP in Nursing Leadership
BSN to DNP in Family Nursing Practice
Bradley University — Bradley University features several nursing bridge programs. They include programs such as the BSN to DNP in nursing leadership, MSN to FNP, and the BSN to DNP in family nursing practice. The programs innovative curriculum is designed to meet local, national, and global health care needs.
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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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Simmons College
RN to MSN for Family Nurse Practitioner
MSN in Family Nurse Practitioner
Simmons College — Simmons College offers an online MSN for Family Nurse Practitioners degree, a 36- to 47-credit program consisting of a Nursing Leadership Core, which features a theoretical curriculum, and a Nursing Practice Core, which puts theory into practice in real-world situations.
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American Sentinel University
MS in Nursing
MSN in Case Management
MSN in Infection Prevention
MSN in Nurse Informatics
MSN in Nurse Leadership
American Sentinel University — Students of American Sentinel University's online masters in nursing programs are able to finish their degrees after completing 21 undergrad credits plus 36 graduate credits. Degrees offered include the basic RN to MSN as well as several MSN specialties in case management, infection prevention and control, nurse informatics, and nurse leadership.
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University of Cincinnati
MSN in Clinical Nursing
MSN in Family Nursing
MSN in Women's Health
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University of Cincinnati — Founded in 1889, the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing features three tracks to achieve the Master of Science Nursing degree: traditional, accelerated, and RN to MSN LINK program. The college offers numerous onsite and distance learning specialties, including clinical nursing, adult nursing, family nursing, women's health, and more.
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Maryville University
Doctor of Nursing Practice
MSN in Family Nurse Practitioner
MSN in Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
Maryville University — Sacred Heart University offers several nurse practitioner degrees for the aspiring students: Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Whichever course of study that a student decides on, the curriculum is designed to prepare its graduates for all of the challenges that they will face in the day-to-day operations of the nursing profession.
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