Why This Matters

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 53,300 MORE NPS BY 2026

    Demand for nurse practitioners is expected to increase by 28% over the next few years, as they are increasingly used as part of primary care teams in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and clinics.

  • 700,000 NURSES TO RETIRE IN THE NEXT DECADE


    The projected retirement rate of registered nurses by 2030 is also contributing to rising demand. Nurse practitioners, with their advanced skills, can help fill in the gaps caused by retirements.

  • EARN $35,300 MORE AS A NURSE PRACTITIONER

    Nurse practitioners enjoy a significant salary increase over RNs. The average median salary for a nurse practitioner is $107,030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to $71,730 for RNs.

Our Research

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 by a regional accrediting body. These accreditations are important when it comes to obtaining licensure.

Although all programs are advertised as online, accredited nurse practitioner programs do 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. Our top picks for the best online nurse practitioner programs are well-respected, affordable, and flexible.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 50+ hours to write this article
  • 135 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 288 education programs we compared

The Top 60 Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Although students may be able to complete all of their coursework online in a given program, accredited nurse practitioner programs also have in-person requirements for clinical learning. Since healthcare is a human services field, this hands-on learning is key in preparing nurse practitioners treat and interact with patients. The number of clinical hours and the settings in which students complete vary based on the program and state regulations. When researching programs, find out the specifics of their clinical requirements, including what kind of placement assistance students receive from the program.

In order to provide services as a nurse practitioner, individuals must obtain a certification and licensure. National certification boards like the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners certify nurse practitioners. The certification process usually entails paying a fee and passing an examination. There is also a recertification process for maintaining credentials.

Nurse practitioners receive their licenses from the state in which they are practicing. State regulations can affect where a student receives their degree. If you are considering an online degree from a school in a different state, it’s important to confirm that the school is authorized to grant degrees to students in your home state, and that your state’s licensing board will recognize the degree.

What’s Next?

When selecting an online nurse practitioner program, here are a few questions to ask:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Most MSN programs seek students who already have a BSN and an RN license. Some schools offer “bridge programs” to students with an associate’s degree. Look at the eligibility requirements for programs to determine which one best suits your education and experience level.
  • Is there an accelerated track to a Doctor of Nurse Practice? For students seeking a DNP, some schools offer an accelerated track that allows students to start working on the doctorate while completing the MSN program. They may also guarantee acceptance into the DNP program upon successful completion of the master’s. If this path interests you, look for a school that offers this kind of track, as it can save you time and money.

Be sure to look at all the program’s admission requirements and deadlines. Gathering your application materials well ahead of the submission deadline will help the process go smoothly. Financing your master’s degree is another important consideration. If you are already employed, find out if you are eligible for tuition assistance from your employer. You can also look into scholarships, assistantships, and financial aid.