Nurse practitioners save lives and help people while pulling six-figure salaries. If that sounds like a good deal, check out these top online programs to begin your nursing career.
Nurse Practitioners (NPs) have it all: Excellent bedside manner? Check. Known for providing excellent patient satisfaction? Check. Probably our best hope for responding to a growing physician shortage? Check. Overall, some of the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet? Double check.
If you’re a registered nurse who wants to advance your career by becoming an NP, you’re going to need an advanced degree, like a master of science in nursing (MSN). Fortunately, you don’t have to put your life on pause to complete a nurse practitioner program — you can do it online. Here’s how:
- Explore this page to determine whether this path is the right choice for you.
- Check out the top-ranked online nurse practitioner programs and our sponsored programs.
- Request more information from schools you’re interested in to find the best fit for you.
Is a Nurse Practitioner Master’s Degree Worth It?
Yes: Nurse practitioner programs can unlock your career potential as a nurse. NPs are some of the most specialized and highly-paid nursing professionals in healthcare. They have more autonomy and authority than registered nurses and get to work as primary care providers.
As a nurse practitioner, you’ll perform many of the same services as physicians, including:
- Prescribing Medication
- Disease Prevention
NPs typically specialize in caring for a specific group of people, such as children, older adults, and those who need psychiatric mental health services. So if there is a patient population you’re really passionate about, becoming an NP can give you the opportunity to take even better care of them.
On top of all that, patients love NPs. A 2020 study in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners indicates that NPs perform just as well as physicians when it comes to patient outcomes and clinical safety — and they often perform better than doctors when it comes to patient education and satisfaction.
Types of Nurse Practitioner Programs
RN-to-MSN and ADN-to-MSN programs allow RNs with associate degrees in nursing to earn their MSN degrees without first earning their BSNs. Some RN-to-MSN programs award you a BSN degree en route to the MSN. Programs for nurse practitioners typically include approximately 60 credits of coursework and clinical practice hours. You can often earn your MSN degree in 2-3 years.
BSN-to-MSN programs prepare students with BSN degrees for both clinical and non-clinical roles. Programs for aspiring nurse practitioners typically include 30-60 credits of coursework and 600-700 hours of clinical practice. Full-time students can earn their MSN degrees in two years.
Direct-Entry MSN/Accelerated MSN Programs
Direct-entry and accelerated MSN programs cater to college graduates who studied subjects other than nursing in college. Some programs award you a BSN degree while you work toward your MSN degree, while others do not. If you enroll in a direct-entry MSN program, you can earn your RN license, MSN degree, and NP certification within three years.