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Nurse practitioners, renowned for their expansive care roles, rank among the most sought-after and well-compensated healthcare professionals, with a median salary of $125,900. As the field anticipates a remarkable 38% growth over the next decade, obtaining an MSN Nurse Practitioner degree online is a flexible way to achieve career advancement with opportunities for specialization in primary care, psychiatric-mental health, and adult-gerontology.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best online programs nationwide, with tuition prices averaging $19,749. These programs can be completed in two to three years with full-time study. Enrolling in an MSN Nurse Practitioner program is a surefire way to pursue an in-demand and respected career in healthcare.

How to Choose an Online MSN Nurse Practitioner Program

Choose your area of study

You can choose the right area of study for your MSN Nurse Practitioner degree by considering your personal goals and aligning them with available specialization options. While NP itself is a specific field, further specialization will refine your expertise for particular patient populations. For instance, specializing as a Family Nurse Practitioner is excellent for those eager to work across diverse age groups, while concentrating in Psychiatric-Mental Health is ideal for those interested in behavioral wellness and improving patient well-being on a holistic level. Students seeking a career working with older adults may opt for a specialization in Adult-Gerontology, gaining in-depth training in age-specific health issues.

Research schools and programs

Once you know your intended specialty, you can research the schools and programs to help you meet your career goals. Guide your research with questions like:

  • Does a recognized nursing accreditation body accredit the program?
  • How does the curriculum align with my career goals?
  • How does the program support clinical placement services?

You can find this information on school websites, by attending open houses, or by contacting an admissions counselor for a more significant understanding of each program’s offerings.

Prepare for tests and applications

Now that you have narrowed your options and know the schools you’d like to apply to, you should begin preparing for tests and applications. Standard application requirements include:

  • Academic transcripts and a minimum GPA
  • Current RN license
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Resume or curriculum vitae

Additionally, some programs may require GRE scores and two to four years of documented healthcare experience. For schools that do require standardized test scores, consider enrolling in a test prep program to improve your performance.

Select your program

If you submit multiple applications, getting numerous acceptance letters is possible. In this situation, you may have a big decision to make.

Now is an excellent time to revisit your initial research on curriculum alignment, student support services, and faculty credentials. Make sure the program resonates with your career goals, and explore faculty profiles to find educators you’re excited to learn from.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Financing your degree might seem daunting, but many financial aid resources are available to ease the burden. Prioritize seeking scholarships and grants, as they don’t require repayment. Federal loans are a viable next step, offering favorable terms compared to private loans. If you’re interested in part-time work, work-study programs provide valuable experience while contributing to education costs. Those currently employed should consider employer tuition reimbursement programs as they can significantly alleviate expenses.

Best 50 Accredited Online MSN Nurse Practitioner Programs


Drexel University

Ohio State University

Duke University School of Nursing

University of South Alabama

Duquesne University

Frontier Nursing University

University of Alabama

The University of Texas at Arlington

GW School of Nursing

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Georgia College & State University

La Salle University

University of Texas Medical Branch School of Nursing

Rivier University

Gonzaga University

Georgetown University School of Nursing

Texas Tech University

ECU College of Nursing

East Tennessee State University

Ball State University

Texas A&M University Health Science Center School of Nursing

California State University Dominguez Hills

Briar Cliff University

Angelo State University

King University

Eastern Kentucky University

University of Central Missouri

University of Missouri - Kansas City

FAU College of Nursing

Thomas Jefferson University

The University of Texas at Tyler

The Catholic University of America

Kent State University

Clarkson College

University of St. Francis

University of Louisiana Monroe

Texas A&M International University

Clayton State University

Delta State University

Marshall University

Troy University

Carson-Newman University

Saint Joseph's College of Maine

Discover More Options

How We Rank Schools

Earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a nurse practitioner concentration is the most common route to becoming an NP. Individuals with a master’s degree can earn a Doctor of Nurse Practice (DNP). Individuals with less educational experience can do a BSN to MSN or DNP accelerated track program. Our list includes all types of degree routes.

The programs on this list are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), as well as by a regional accrediting body. These accreditations are essential when it comes to obtaining licensure.

Although all programs are advertised online, accredited nurse practitioner programs have experiential learning components in clinical settings.

We evaluated the programs for their reputation, faculty, flexibility, cost, and course strength. Then, we calculated an Intelligent Score based on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect From an Online MSN Nurse Practitioner Program

An online MSN Nurse Practitioner program offers students the opportunity to acquire advanced clinical skills, significant knowledge of healthcare systems, and specialized expertise in their chosen NP field. While most coursework is delivered online, these programs integrate in-person clinical requirements to ensure hands-on experience in patient care settings. Clinical hours and locations vary based on program-specific guidelines and state regulations. Incorporating practical training prepares nurse practitioners to effectively diagnose, treat, and communicate with patients.

Typically designed for full-time students, the duration of these programs varies but usually spans two to three years, providing a balanced and thorough education for skilled and compassionate future healthcare providers.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online MSN Nurse Practitioner program

  • Primary Care Management of Adults and Older Adults: This clinical-focused course emphasizes assessing, diagnosing, and managing common health issues in adult and older adult populations. Students develop competence in conducting comprehensive health assessments, formulating differential diagnoses, and creating evidence-based treatment plans.
  • Advanced Pharmacology: This course delves into the principles of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics, equipping students with the knowledge to prescribe and manage medications effectively. Topics include drug interactions, adverse effects, and patient education, fostering expertise in medication management for diverse patient populations.
  • Pathophysiology for Advanced Nursing Practice: Students explore the altered physiological processes underlying diseases, improving their understanding of health deviations. This course focuses on critical thinking in linking pathophysiological changes to clinical manifestations to make informed diagnostic and treatment decisions.
  • Advanced Health Assessment: This course teaches physical examination techniques and history-taking. Students learn to perform thorough assessments, interpret findings, and communicate effectively with patients, laying the foundation for accurate diagnosis and patient-centered care in advanced nursing practice.

What Can You Do With an Online MSN Nurse Practitioner Degree?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals with an online MSN nurse practitioner degree is exceptionally promising. As the healthcare landscape evolves, there is a growing demand for advanced practice nurses to address complex patient needs. Nurse practitioners are well-positioned for roles in primary care, specialty practices, and community health settings. With the autonomy to diagnose, treat, and prescribe, nurse practitioners are crucial in expanding access to quality healthcare.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse practitioners earn a median salary of $125,900 annually. In addition, there is a growing need for professionals in this field, with the BLS anticipating a 38 percent growth over the next decade.

Career paths

Individuals with a nurse practitioner degree have diverse and rewarding career paths in healthcare. Nurse practitioners work in various industries, reflecting the versatility of their skills and the increasing demand for advanced nursing professionals in diverse settings. Some settings where nurse practitioners commonly work include specialty practices, military facilities, correctional facilities, and urgent care centers.

Nurse practitioners may undertake various healthcare roles depending on their area of specialization. Some of the common ones include the following:

  • Acute care nurse practitioners specialize in managing complex, acute, and critical conditions in settings such as hospitals, critical care units, or specialty clinics.
  • Pediatric nurse practitioners focus on the healthcare needs of infants, children, and adolescents, providing well-child care and managing pediatric illnesses.
  • Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners offer mental health assessments, diagnosis, and treatment for individuals experiencing psychiatric or mental health disorders.
  • Women’s health nurse practitioners specialize in women’s healthcare, providing services such as gynecological exams, family planning, and prenatal care.
  • Gerontology nurse practitioners focus on the health and well-being of older adults, managing chronic conditions, and addressing age-related health concerns.

Nurse Educator

Earning Potential: $49,972-$100,180 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in nursing or a related field

A nurse educator plays a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of healthcare professionals. They develop and deliver educational programs, imparting clinical and theoretical knowledge to nursing students or healthcare professionals. Nurse educators design curricula, facilitate lectures, oversee clinical experiences, and assess students’ progress. They contribute to the ongoing development of nursing education, staying abreast of industry advancements and ensuring learners acquire the skills and knowledge needed for effective patient care. By fostering a positive learning environment, nurse educators inspire and mentor future nurses, influencing the quality of healthcare delivery and contributing to the continued excellence of the nursing profession.

Nurse Administrator

Earning Potential: $92,892-$109,240 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in nursing or a related field

A nurse administrator plays a crucial role in healthcare leadership, overseeing nursing departments and ensuring the efficient delivery of patient care. They manage nursing staff, allocate resources, and develop policies to enhance the quality of healthcare services. Nurse administrators collaborate with other healthcare leaders, implement organizational strategies, and maintain compliance with healthcare regulations. This role involves strategic planning and budget management while fostering a positive work environment. Nurse administrators contribute to the overall effectiveness of healthcare institutions by combining clinical expertise with managerial skills, ensuring the provision of high-quality patient-centered care within their departments.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Earning Potential: $114,830-$134,430 annually
Education Required: Master’s degree in nursing or doctor of nursing practice

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a highly skilled healthcare professional specializing in primary care. They provide comprehensive and personalized medical services to individuals of all ages within a family context. FNPs conduct health assessments, diagnose and treat common illnesses, manage chronic conditions, and emphasize preventive care. With the authority to prescribe medications and order diagnostic tests, FNPs are vital in promoting health, addressing acute and chronic health issues, and fostering strong patient-provider relationships. Their holistic approach ensures that each family member receives tailored and continuous healthcare, contributing to improved overall well-being and health outcomes.

Online MSN Nurse Practitioner Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online MSN Nurse Practitioner degree program?

To apply for these programs, start by researching program specifics and ensuring you meet admission requirements, typically including a BSN, RN license, and relevant work experience.

Next, prepare documents like transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Double-check deadlines, and submit your applications early.

Don’t hesitate to contact an admissions counselor for further assistance on the application process. They can provide valuable insights into the program and clarify any doubts.

How much does an online MSN Nurse Practitioner degree cost?

The cost of an online graduate degree varies, but for 2020-2021, it averaged $26,621 for private colleges and $12,394 for public universities. Costs can differ on the program and may include:

  • Books and materials
  • Technology requirements
  • Virtual learning tools
  • Clinical placement costs

While these expenses can cause the overall cost of attendance to fluctuate, it’s important to remember that online students often save money compared to traditional students due to reduced commuting and accommodation costs.

How long does it take to earn an online MSN Nurse Practitioner degree?

Earning an online MSN Nurse Practitioner degree typically takes two to three years, but program lengths can vary. The flexibility of online learning often allows for extended completion times, catering to individual schedules. Part-time students usually take longer to finish, which can benefit those balancing their studies with other commitments. Additionally, the total number of required credits and clinical hours significantly influence the overall program duration. Generally speaking, the more credits and hours required, the longer it will take to graduate.

Is an online MSN nurse practitioner degree program worth it?

Pursuing an online MSN nurse practitioner degree can be worth the investment for dedicated professionals interested in advancing their careers. The comprehensive curriculum covers advanced nursing topics, clinical skills, and specialized knowledge needed for nurse practitioner roles.

Multiple factors, including an aging population and the increasingly technical needs of the medical field, make an investment in an MSN nurse practitioner program a wise choice. The need for trained nurse practitioners is expected to increase significantly over the next decade. Nurse practitioners are also likely to find positions with generous salaries. A psychiatric nurse practitioner, for example, earns an average salary of $118,710 annually, according to

Online learning allows for a diverse range of clinical experiences, ensuring a well-rounded education. The online format provides a higher level of flexibility than on-campus programs, allowing students to maintain their personal and professional commitments while attending school. Graduates are prepared to provide holistic, patient-centered care, address community health needs, and contribute to primary care.

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