Online nurse practitioner programs benefit licensed RNs who want to advance their careers. Nurse practitioners (NPs) provide patients across the lifespan with advanced care services and hold leadership positions in hospitals and clinics. Most specialize in serving a specific population, such as the elderly or children.
RNs who enroll in an online nurse practitioner program have the freedom to continue working as they fulfill program requirements. Finding an accredited NP program also represents an important step in the process, as learners who fail to do so may struggle to transfer credits or find jobs after graduation. Degrees listed in this ranking represent the most affordable nurse practitioner programs available for 2020. View our ranking methodology to learn more about how we selected these schools.
Top 10 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
What to Expect From an Online Nurse Practitioner Program
Candidates seeking nurse practitioner programs can expect most programs to cover certain common course topics. These include advanced health assessment and clinical reasoning, advanced nursing in primary and acute care settings, application and evidence in healthcare environments, and clinical decision making for the nurse practitioner. Most learners take 1-4 years to graduate, depending on their educational history and enrollment status.
Other program requirements include supervised clinical hours and, if necessary, certification. Some states also provide APRN licensure upon graduation. However, licensure requirements vary by state, and learners should check with their local board to learn about the specifics. The American Association of Nurse Practitionersâ map features updated licensing rules and regulations for each state.
Career Outlook for Nurses Practitioners
NPs typically work in public and private hospitals, physicians' offices, long-term care facilities, and community clinics. Their duties often vary by workplace, but typically include assessing and treating patients, prescribing medications, performing examinations, and evaluating treatment plans.
While in school, most NPs choose a specialization such as family, geriatric, or pediatric practice. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that NPs earned a median annual salary of $109,820 in 2020, while the top 10% of earners brought home roughly $184,180 a year. Hospitals tend to offer the highest pay rates, while educational services offer the lowest.
The BLS projects a 28% job growth rate for NPs between 2018 and 2028, which would lead to the creation of 53,300 new jobs. Employment opportunities for NPs should remain in demand as patients look for greater levels of preventative care and aging populations live longer.