Why This Matters


    Over the next 10 years, jobs for nurse practitioners are projected to grow at a rate of 45%, which is faster than the average for all occupations.


    The American Association of Nurse Practitioners lists nine specialties and 13 subspecialties that NPs can focus their career on.


    Registered nurses earn $73,300 on average, compared with $115,800 per year for nurse practitioners.

Our Research

This list focuses on graduate programs related to nursing that offer a master’s degree. Most master’s degree programs award a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. We reviewed programs that are offered online and in blended formats.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits bachelor’s, master’s, and residency programs in nursing that meet high standards of quality in nursing education. In addition to CCNE-accredited programs, this list includes programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Accreditation ensures there is a level of quality across nursing programs.

  • 72 hours to write this article
  • 150 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 268 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Nurse Practitioner Master’s Degree Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Registered nurses and nurse practitioners both collaborate with other healthcare professionals to deliver healthcare services to patients. However, registered nurses typically provide basic patient care, such as recording patients’ symptoms and helping to perform diagnostic tests. Nurse practitioners have a broader scope of practice than registered nurses and deliver advanced medical care, such as assessing, diagnosing, and treating medical conditions, with some states allowing them independent practice authority.

To become a registered nurse, most workers need an associate or bachelor’s degree. Registered nurses must also obtain a nursing license by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and a state license for the state in which they practice. To become a nurse practitioner, eligible candidates must also earn a master’s degree from an accredited nursing program after obtaining registered nurse licensure.

A potential student should look for programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Career options rise dramatically after earning a master’s degree due to a strong and growing demand for nurse practitioners. Jobs for nurse practitioners are projected to grow at a rate of 45% over the next 10 years, compared with 7% for registered nurses.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online nurse practitioner master’s degree programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Most nursing master’s degree programs require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited college or university as well as a nursing license. However, some students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and a valid RN license may be admitted into a “bridge” program. Many programs also ask applicants to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Before applying, check the program’s admissions requirements to confirm that you meet their qualifications.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? The amount of time it takes to complete a master’s program in nursing depends on various factors. However, full-time students usually earn a master’s degree in two years.

As you research programs, note what application materials you must submit for each program. You should also keep track of application deadlines. You can usually find information about each program’s application process online or by contacting the admissions department.

It is also important to consider how you will finance your graduate education. Tuition and fees vary by program. Some funding opportunities may include scholarships, loans, and grants. If you work, you should also ask your employer about educational assistance programs.