The nurse practitioner career has quickly become one of the most popular and high-paying positions in the nursing field over the last several years. According to recent reports, the number of practitioners has doubled over the previous four years to almost 250,000 licensed practitioners, with further increases likely in the future – the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a growth of 46 percent by 2031.
Furthermore, the median pay of a nurse practitioner is $120,680 – with a high salary of about $152,160 and a low income of $79,470. So even practitioners in low-cost hospitals will still make a high-quality wage. This type of career is an excellent choice for those who want to be a nurse but who want to earn great money and settle into a long-lasting job. And nurse practitioner programs can help a person achieve that goal.
|University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
|Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
|Johns Hopkins University
|University of Connecticut
A typical education program for a nurse practitioner includes Associate degrees or Bachelor degrees followed up by a Master’s degree at an accredited university. Practitioners utilize hands-on courses and on-site clinical, as well as some online work, to master the skills necessary for this career. And they must get continuing education every five years to maintain their certification and licensing. Most hospitals will likely pay their practitioner’s training fees for this type of continuing education.
Thankfully, the best nurse practitioner programs across the nation can provide this type of education for those interested in this career. We examined the top schools in the country in this field and came up with the best that we could find for your needs. Each has been ranked according to specific criteria, such as tuition and graduation rates, so please read each paragraph carefully to get an idea of what to expect from each school.
We carefully researched a large number of nurse practitioner programs and found those that are the best for the needs of students like you. We weighed each school on a myriad of different criteria to ensure that they are worth your consideration. Each of the schools here offers both in-person and online nurse practitioner programs, which helps to make your choice a little easier.
The Best 24 Nurse Practitioner Programs
Located in an expansive Nashville, Tennessee, cityscape, Vanderbilt is the best nurse practitioner programs in the nation by reputation and success rate. Though they are a bit more expensive, their small class size and high graduation rate make them hard to top, as they provide a sizeable hands-on environment for students that allows them to learn in an immersive manner. And their online nurse practitioner programs provide a high degree of educational opportunities for those who cannot attend the school in person.
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Oklahoma’s primary health professional training center, this university is unique as one of only four health centers of its type in the nation, providing seven different professional colleges to handle a myriad of different training needs. Those interested in a quick degree can finish their training in just two years, though those working may require a full three years to get their 47 credits
Johns Hopkins University
John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, provides a small number of students (around 800 every year) access to excellent and accredited training for in-person and online nurse practitioner programs. The price is very consistent with that of other private universities, as is its student-to-faculty ratio.
Emory University is a private school in Atlanta, Georgia, that is one of the many educational options offered in this city. The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing provides a handful of DNP programs that should suit the needs of most nurse practitioners. The private nature of this college does offer more hands-on opportunities with educators but also produces a higher price.
University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut is located in Storrs, Connecticut, a reasonably suburban area that is more comfortable and relaxing for potential practitioners. Programs offered in this pathway include neonatal, clinical nurse specialists, and more. These online nurse practitioner programs receive accreditation from the New England Association o School and Colleges and the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.
SUNY Upstate Medical University
Upstate Medical University College of Nursing is part of the State University of New York. Located in Syracuse, New York, the Upstate College of Nursing offers nurse practitioner programs in population specific tracks of family, pediatric, and psychiatric mental health, as well as an online upper division undergraduate BS and online DNP program.
Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Duquesne provides three different on-site and online nurse practitioner programs: master of science in nursing, a doctor of nursing practice, and a post-master’s certificate. The last type is a step above the master but not relatively as high as a doctorate, providing a middle ground for those who aren’t ready for the demands of a doctorate. Duquesne consistently ranks very highly in national college polls.
Located in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton University has become renowned for many programs over the years. Its nurse practitioner programs focus on degrees for those interested in working in hospitals, clinics, for state and federal agencies, and even for correctional facilities such as a prison. Creighton is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Seton Hall University
Seton Hall University is often ranked as one of the best graduate nursing programs in the nation and is the best option for nurse practitioner programs in New Jersey. Currently, they offer four in-person and online nurse practitioner programs: gerontology nurse practitioner and pediatric practitioners in both primary and acute care settings. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, it is a trusted option for many.
As a private school, Rush University in Chicago, Illinois, is relatively inexpensive. And it has a small and compact graduate nursing program of just 1,239. This helps to make it easier for students to make connections and friends that may last for years. And this university has one of the best student-to-faculty ratios on the list, which helps make it one of the better options.
University of Detroit Mercy
Over the years, the University of Detroit Mercy has earned a reputation as one of the most respected private schools in the state of Michigan. It is currently the largest Roman Catholic university in the nation with three different campuses and a family nurse practitioner degree for those who want to go through the program. A typical degree requires 72 credit hours and 720 clinical hours, providing a very comprehensive level of training.
University of California
The University of California – San Francisco provides inexpensive public education options for those who need them. They currently have around 460 people in their graduate nurse practitioner programs, providing a diverse and engaging student body. Though the setting of this campus is quite large, the campus itself is cozy and compact, creating a more relaxing environment.
Ball State University
Ball State University is located in Muncie, Indiana, and offers one of the best nurse practitioner programs in the nation, including master, post-master, and doctorate degrees. Training includes both online practitioner programs and a variety of hands-on clinical tests that immerse the student in their training. The cost of living in Muncie is cheaper than other Indiana schools, making it a good choice for those who do not have much money.
This university offers five different campus options throughout Philadelphia, each of which provides nurse practitioner programs at a high level. They provide programs in gerontology, acute care, primary care, a doctorate of nursing practice, and a family nurse practitioner pathway. Each program has been accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, ensuring that the quality is high for this school.
Keiser University has many branches throughout the state of Florida, with the main campus being located in Fort Lauderdale. When finishing up a degree, practitioners must complete a FNP board certification exam to get their license, a step that is set up to suit the guidelines created by the American Associate of Colleges of Nursing Program. Students must earn 49 graduate hours and a 3.0 GPA minimum to finish their program.
Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi
The Corpus Christi branch of this well-regarded college has one of the finest nurse practitioner programs in the nation, providing reasonably-priced degrees and accreditation that allows students to quickly transfer their credits elsewhere if they want to study at another university later. Those who want a large-city environment may enjoy this option because it is immersed in a large and well-populated city.
Virginia Commonwealth University
The Virginia Commonwealth University is a unique research-based school that has some of the finest nursing programs in the nation, including some of the best nurse practitioner programs in psychiatric and mental health, adult-gerontology primary, family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology acute care NP, and nursing administration and leadership.
University of Maryland – Baltimore
The University of Maryland – Baltimore provides a private-school student-to-faculty ratio at a public-school tuition rate. This helps to make it one of the most affordable and reliable schools for nurse practitioner programs. With both in-person and online options available, this option is a good choice for those in or near Baltimore or throughout the nation.
Tennessee Tech University
Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tennessee, provides a single program for nursing practitioners, focusing on family nurse care. They currently have accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, which must be updated regularly to keep the school up to date.
University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi includes campuses in both Long Beach and Hattiesburg, with the latter being the primary campus. Currently, their nursing program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on College, ad provides a program for nursing practitioners. The small-town atmosphere on both campuses may be suitable for those who want a relaxed environment during school.
Barry University in Miami, Florida, provides a private Catholic atmosphere for those who want to mix their faith with their education. They include two available concentrations: family practice and adult-gerontology acute care. A typical program should take around two and a half years to complete with a minimum of 500 clinical hours to ensure success in this field.
East Carolina University
The small-city setting of this college in Greenville, North Carolina, makes it a relaxing place to pursue one of eight-different nurse practitioner programs – master of science of nursing and a post-master’s certificate in neonatal care and psychiatric-mental health care, doctor of nursing practice and post-doctorate certificate in family care and gerontology. They also have a psychiatric-mental health care Program in MSN and Post-Masters, as well as a DNP in family care and gerontology.
This university often finds students coming from over 40 different countries and states, each pursuing many different degrees. They currently offer nurse practitioner options in adult gerontology acute care, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, emergency, and family nurse practitioner.
Columbus State University
Columbus State University is one of the most prominent options for nurse practitioners in Georgia. Its midsized campus is large enough to make a diverse group of friends but not so big that it is easy to get lost. The student population is made up of about 300 students, providing a pretty hometown feel for those who want it. The program is completely online.
Why Attend a Nurse Practitioner Program?
Nurse practitioners are an important part of the healthcare system, delivering urgent and acute care to all patient populations. Nurse practitioners are able to improve patient outcomes and provide preventative care to patients in a range of settings.
There are different types of nurse practitioners who operate in different settings, including family nurse practitioners who provide care to patients of all ages and adult-gerontology nurse practitioners who treat adults. Attending a nurse practitioner program allows students who would like to advance their careers to take the first step to becoming a nurse practitioner. There are many benefits of becoming a nurse practitioner, including:
- Flexible application. Medicine is an in-demand field and nurse practitioners are in high demand within that field. This means that basically, anyone who becomes a nurse practitioner can find work nearly anywhere in the country, in virtually any type of healthcare setting. Nurse practitioners get to choose shifts that work for them and settings that fit their preferences. Nurse practitioners can change healthcare settings freely and can often move easily between states due to reciprocity laws.
- Career satisfaction. Many nurse practitioners feel personal satisfaction with their career choice. They enjoy high earnings, professional flexibility, and enjoy helping others.
- Career opportunities. Nurse practitioners do not have to work in clinical settings. They can become educators, can work in medical administration, and can even participate in medical research.
- Competitive pay. Nurse practitioners are paid handsomely, earning around $120,700 for their median salary (1), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even nurse practitioners who earn on the low end of the salary scale are able to earn a good wage.
- Growing and changing field. Nursing is constantly growing and changing, and the tools available to nurses are constantly changing. For someone who really likes to change and grow in their career, becoming a nurse practitioner is a perfect opportunity.
What Can You Do with a Nurse Practitioner Degree?
Nurse practitioners work in many settings, from emergency rooms to surgical clinics, government agencies, and hospitals. Nurse practitioners can work in university settings because they have an advanced degree.
Nurse practitioners can do many things standard nurses cannot do, like order lab tests, prescribe treatment, and diagnose patients. They can do all of this without oversight from a doctor.
Types of Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners are subdivided into many different types.
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse – This type of Nurse Practitioner provides patient care in settings where patients need medical treatment because of injury or illness, such as hospitals.
- Family Nurse Practitioner – This type of NP provides care to patients of all ages in a primary care setting. In addition to providing preventative care, family nurse practitioners care for patients with injuries, educate patients on how to make healthy lifestyle choices, and help patients recover from illnesses.
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner – These nurses provide advanced care for newborns – especially those in need of special care, such as those born prematurely and those with complications after birth. Neonatal nurse practitioners take responsibility for activities like helping parents bond with their infants, monitoring the equipment aiding their patients, and assessing the condition of their patients.
- Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner – These nurse practitioners help patients cope with mental illness by providing counseling, prescribing medications, and treating a full range of mental health disorders.
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Pediatric nurse practitioners provide care to patients under age 21, including infants, children, and young adults. These nurse practitioners work in a range of settings including hospitals and in acute care settings. Pediatric nurse practitioners provide counseling and advice to their patients and their families, diagnose patients, make referrals, create treatment plans, and more.
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner – This type of nurse practitioner provides primary or acute care to girls and women and may provide OB/GYN care, pelvic exams, pap smears, and more.
Nurse Practitioner Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, as of May of 2021, the typical nurse practitioner salary is $120,680, or about $58.02 per hour. Currently, the best-paid nurse practitioners have a salary of about $152,160 per year, and the lowest-paid still enjoy an income of $79,470 annually.
NP Program Requirements
To become a nurse practitioner (NP), the first step is to obtain a bachelor degree in nursing. After getting your bachelor degree, you’ll need to take the National Council Licensure Examination to get an RN license. Once you’ve received your RN license, you’ll need to enroll in a graduate program (master or doctoral). Once the graduate program is completed, you’ll take the National NP Certification Board Exam to obtain NP licensure.
NPs must complete a rigorous schedule of core science and math courses. During their time in their bachelor and graduate programs, nurse practitioners gain the knowledge they need to diagnose and manage medications and treatments for patients.
Nurse Practitioner Courses
The courses you take on your path to becoming a nurse practitioner may vary, but below are some of the classes that the best nurse practitioner schools will require of you.
- Clinical pharmacology – This class reviews different drug interactions and classifications, including how different types of drugs affect different bodily functions. In this class, you’ll also learn about drug side effects.
- Statistical literacy – Nurse practitioners must conduct a lot of research when trying to improve patient outcomes. This statistical literacy class helps nurse practitioners make sense of medical research, so they can make the best choices for their patients.
- Disease prevention – This course teaches nurse practitioners to help prevent diseases among various populations and also helps NPs apply these skills in real-world situations.
- Applications of research to practice – This course prepares students for their leadership roles in organizations, helping future nurse practitioners learn to apply evidence-based research to real-world problems encountered in their practice.
Courses offered by the top nurse practitioner programs vary, so students will need to inquire about the classes required of them when they enroll in their program of choice.
Nurse Practitioners Licensure & Certifications
To become a licensed nurse practitioner, you’ll need to take multiple examinations to achieve certification in your field. Exams to take include:
- National Council Licensure Examination – this will allow you to get your RN license.
- National NP Certification Board Exam – this makes it possible to obtain NP licensure.
There are a variety of certifications you can obtain in order to specialize in a specific area of healthcare or in care for a specific population type. You’ll need to find the right type of certifying board for the population or type of medicine you’d like to practice.