A nurse practitioner earns a graduate-level degree, known as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), plus the attainment of board certification in a particular form of nursing or medical specialty, which is selected prior to entering into one of the many nurse practitioner programs now offered online.
A nurse practitioner degree is a type of APRN – Advanced Practice Registered Nurse – a nursing professional with the authority and certification to diagnose, treat, and manage patient conditions, including the provision of prescription medicine. Certain states allow NP’s to practice without the direct supervision of a medical doctor; however, each state sets forth the regulations regarding an NP’s professional reach.
|Texas A&M University
|College Station, Texas
|Georgia Southwestern State
|Columbus State University
|Columbus , Georgia
|Nicholls State University
|Angelo State University
|San Angelo, Texas
Nurse practitioners can choose from nursing specialties that include, among others –
- Mental Health
- Women’s Health
- Family Medicine
- Adult Medicine
The list of distance learning nursing programs shown below represents some of the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs available throughout the country. Note, however, that most schools only offer a subset of nurse practitioner specialties, so be certain to choose a program that meets your career objectives. Online nurse practitioner programs typically combine online coursework plus a clinical practicum at a location convenient to the student.
Top 16 Most Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University’s College of Nursing offers a Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) Nurse Practitioner degree program that requires six semesters for completion. Among the specialties offered by one of the country’s most affordable online nurse practitioner programs is Family Nurse Practitioner or Forensic Nursing. It is noted there is a Board of Nursing (BON) small residency requirement for degree candidates. Classes for this degree include diagnostics and procedures, primary care of families, and prevention and population health, to name a few.
Georgia Southwestern State
Georgia Southwestern State College of Nursing and Health Sciences offers a four-semester Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) Nurse Practitioner degree program that is among the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs available in the marketplace. Students attending Georgia Southwestern State’s online NP program can complete the degree in 24 months if studying at nine credits per semester, but it is also available to part-time students as well.
Columbus State University
Columbus State University’s College of Education and Health Professions offers a BSN to Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) Family Nurse Practitioner degree program that can be completed in only 24 months of studying full time over five semesters. Core coursework for these most affordable online nurse practitioner programs offered by Columbus State University includes advanced pathophysiology, health promotion for adults and women, health care delivery models, to name a few. They are a 100% online program and do not charge a fee for out-of-state residents.
Nicholls State University
Nicholls State University (Nicholls State) is a member school of the Intercollegiate Consortium and offers a CCNE-accredited Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) Nurse Practitioner (NP) degree program that is available 100% online. Nicholls State University’s most affordable online nurse practitioner programs offer students three academic nurse practitioner tracks – family nurse practitioner, mental health practitioner, or nurse educator. Classes for this graduate degree in nursing include health policy for nurse practitioners, health assessment & diagnostic reasoning, and pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice nursing, to name a few.
Angelo State University
Angelo State University’s Department of Nursing offers a Master’s in Nurse Practitioner degree program that is approved by the (TBON) Texas Board of Nursing (BON). Additionally, Angelo State University offers one of the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs with its MSN that awards a Nurse Educator eligibility certification. Classes for Angelo State University’s nurse practitioner programs include health policy and ethics, pharmacotherapeutics, and population health epidemiology, to name a few.
Delta State University
Delta State University offers a Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) Nurse Practitioner degree program that is available entirely online in about two years, with Clinical hours that must be completed in a facility in Mississippi or Arkansas. Delta State University’s most affordable online nurse practitioner programs prepare degree candidates to become professional nursing educators or family nurse practitioners.
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University’s (Stony Brook) School of Nursing offers a Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) Nurse Practitioner degree program that is among the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs in the Empire State. Stony Brook University’s nurse practitioner programs are available in these academic tracks – family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology, women’s health, neonatal, pediatric, and mental health, and only require limited site visits. Students graduate prepared to sit for the national certification exams.
Cedarville University’s Nursing Department offers a Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) Nurse Practitioner degree program that leads to certification as Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Educator or Nurse Leadership that is available entirely online. Cedarville University’s most affordable online nurse practitioner programs may be completed as full-time or part-time students.
St. Thomas University
St.Thomas University, located in the Sunshine State, offers a Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) Nurse Practitioner degree program that is 100% available online and can be. St. Thomas University’s most affordable online nurse practitioner programs offer two academic tracks – family nurse practitioner and mental health nurse practitioner and six academic start dates each year.
Morningside College Nylen Nursing School, located in Sioux City, offers one of the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs available with its Master of Science in Nursing Degree (MSN) program that awards a Family Primary Care Nurse Practitioner degree. Morningside College’s nurse practitioner program requires three brief residencies during the coursework’s duration. MSN – NP includes academic tracks in Family Care, Gerontology, or Clinical Nurse Leader.
Carson Newman University
Established in 1851, Carson Newman University offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN) program that awards a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) in under three years studying full-time (32 months of 12 fifteen-week classes). Carson Newman University’s most affordable online nurse practitioner programs have also been recognized for their best value and distinction. Classes for this degree include a capstone project or master’s thesis, plus advanced pharmacology, health assessment, and accountability for advanced nursing practice.
Fairleigh Dickinson University – Metropolitan Campus
Fairleigh Dickinson University offers one of the best and the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs in the northeastern United States. Advanced nursing practice classes include advanced health assessment, family systems, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced nursing philosophies and theories, to name a few.
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, situated in Standish, Maine, offers a Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN) program that awards a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) in about two years studying full-time. Students enrolled in Saint Joseph’s College’s most affordable online nurse practitioner programs will complete classes in nursing informatics, conceptual bases for nursing, nursing ethics, and advanced pharmacology, among others. They also have an Adult Gerontological Acute Care NP (AGACNP) track that is fully online and at the same price.
Spring Arbor University
Established in 1873, Spring Arbor University offers an RN or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) Nurse Practitioner degree program that can be completed entirely online. Spring Arbor University’s most affordable online nurse practitioner programs can be completed in 30 months, studying full-time.
The University of Texas
The University of Texas’s Nursing School is recognized as one of the number one public nursing schools by AACN. The University of Texas’s most affordable online nurse practitioner programs are designed for those who hold valid RN licenses but not a Bachelor degree in nursing (BSN). Students enrolled in this RN to Family Nurse Practitioner. BSN students can accelerate their studies and reduce tuition expenses at application.
Samford University has been ranked second in the nation in student engagement and the best higher learning institution in Alabama by the Wall Street Journal. The Moffett and Sanders Nursing School at Samford University offers one of the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs in the state and beyond. Students enrolled in this graduate MSN program can opt for a family nurse practitioner path or mental health practitioner.
Types of Nurse Practitioners
Family Nurse Practitioner
A Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) provides care for patients of all ages. Typically, FNPs work in a primary care setting and manage chronic and acute conditions. FNPs provide preventative education to patients and their families to promote health and well-being. Practicing as an FNP requires a Master’s degree in Nursing (MSN) and a Family Nurse Practitioner certification from either the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
This type of nurse practitioner provides care to patients within a hospital setting or to those who are in immediate need of treatment. Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners (AGACNP) are only able to provide care to adolescents and adults, with a focus on the geriatric population, and are unable to treat pediatric patients. AGACNPs must have a Master’s degree in Nursing and earn board certification through ANCC or The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN).
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Practitioner
Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Practitioners (A-GNP) can provide care for adolescent and adult patients but are unable to treat pediatric patients. These practitioners typically work in a primary care setting, long-term care facility, or hospice and manage acute and chronic health conditions. A-GNPs provide education to prevent illness and reduce the risk of injury among geriatric populations. Along with a graduate degree in nursing, practitioners must also obtain board certification through AANP or ANCC.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNPs) provide care to high-risk newborns and infants who require comprehensive medical care. NNPs may also provide care for infants up to the age of two who have chronic health conditions. Typically, an NNP works in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Along with a Master’s degree in Nursing, board certification through the National Certification Corporation (NCC) and two years of NICU nursing experience are also required.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (Acute or Primary Care)
Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (PNPs) perform well-child examinations, ensure pediatric patients are meeting developmental milestones, and manage acute and chronic conditions in patients from birth until the age of 21. PNPs typically work in a primary care setting or a pediatrician’s office. They may also work in hospitals or acute care clinics. Pediatric Nurse Practitioners must obtain a Master’s degree in nursing and board certification through the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board (PNCB).
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) assess mental health, diagnose mental health disorders, manage mental health conditions, and provide psychotherapy or counseling. PMHNPs typically work in private practices, but may also work within hospital teams, correctional facilities, schools, or other institutions. To practice as a PMHNP, a Master’s degree in Nursing and board certification from the ANCC are required.
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners (WHNPs) provide both acute and primary care to female patients of all ages. WHNPs perform pap smears, prenatal care, pelvic exams, and other OB/GYN services. WHNPs often work within OB/GYN offices. To practice as a WHNP, a Master’s degree in nursing and board certification from the NCC are required.
What to Expect from a Nurse Practitioner Program
While nurse practitioner programs may vary, most have a similar curriculum. Nurse practitioner programs prepare nurses for advanced practice and include courses on advanced pharmacology, physical assessment, epidemiology, nursing theory, pathophysiology, and care across the lifespan. Nurse practitioner programs emphasize leadership among peers as advanced practice nurses. Along with didactic courses, there is also a clinical component required where students will gain hands-on education and practice assessing, diagnosing, treating, and managing patient care.
Full-time MSN programs are typically two years in length. If attending part-time, an MSN may take three to four years to obtain.
Nurse Practitioner Accreditation
After graduating from a nurse practitioner program and before practicing as a nurse practitioner, national certification is required from an accredited certifying body. There are five nurse practitioner certification boards- The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), and National Certification Corporation (NCC). Each type of nurse practitioner has a specific certification board required, and each accrediting body ensures the nurse practitioner is competent to provide care at the highest level of their education.
Nurse Practitioner Scholarship and Grants
Utilizing financial aid and tuition assistance is essential when enrolled in a nurse practitioner program. Unlike federal aid or private loans, most scholarships and grants don’t have to be paid back after graduation. Colleges and Universities may offer several types of scholarships or grants for nurse practitioner students in their programs. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) provides scholarship and grant resources, as well as additional financial aid, for graduate nursing students. AANP also provides resources for graduate nursing students to apply for grants and scholarships. State boards of nursing are another valuable resource, as they often have scholarships or grants available for students in graduate nursing programs.
Budgeting Tips While Earning a Nurse Practitioner Degree
The first step in budgeting while earning a nurse practitioner degree is to understand your current finances, spending habits, and debt. The best way to do this is with a budget sheet which can be created by hand or using an online budgeting tool. After understanding your budget, you should research the cheapest online nurse practitioner programs before applying. This will help minimize student debt. Along with studying at one of the cheapest online NP programs, buy used textbooks or rent them when able- these options are typically much less expensive than buying new books. While in nurse practitioner school, budgeting may require spending less on items or services that are not essential. Make your coffee and meals at home and hold off on shopping sprees until after graduation. Smart shopping is another way to budget. Researching before making purchases and meal planning before going to the grocery store can result in reduced spending. And finally, take advantage of student discounts with utility companies, restaurants, and other businesses.
Our Ranking Methodology
The MSN nursing degree programs listed above represent a comprehensive cross-section of the available most affordable online nurse practitioner programs. These online nurse practitioner degree programs are listed, with the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs ranked first, according to the total tuition required.
Each program’s per credit fee references the cost to earn one graduate credit hour for the calendar year of 2020-2021 or 2019-2020, depending on the most current information provided by the school’s proprietary website or the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) website.
Each Master of Science of Nursing (MSN) degree program includes additional information to assist students in making their best-educated decision regarding the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs that best fit their needs and academic goals. This additional data includes:
- The required credit units to meet the nursing practitioner’s program requirements
- The number of practicum or clinical hours required to meet the NP program requirements
- Accreditation denotes which of the regional or specialized accrediting agencies have reviewed – and approved – the nursing practitioner programs being offered by each higher learning institution
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