It’s been well known that the U.S. is facing a nursing shortage crisis as more nurses retire and more people join insurance rolls and obtain Medicare age. This shortage of nurses is compounded by the difficulty colleges and universities are experiencing in meeting capacity for those students seeking RN, Bachelor of Nursing, Master of Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. Toward that end, more and more colleges and universities are offering 100% online nursing training in a variety of specialties to manage the increased need with reduced on campus resources. The online option is perfect for the working nurse who wishes to rise in their career or assume more leadership responsibilities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over the next ten years, the nursing workforce is expected to grow from 2.71 million in 2012 to 3.24 million in 2022. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN), enrollment in nursing schools three years ago was up by only 2.3%, which is insufficient to meet the future demands. As more patients become insured, physicians, clinics, hospitals and private practices are finding themselves in need of additional clinical staff to meet the need.
Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) are in high demand to help ease the influx of patients expected as more Baby Boomers reach age 65 and qualify for Medicare and other healthcare benefits. The role of the Nurse Practitioner will continue to be important in providing quality, clinical care for an increase in patients. Many nursing schools offer Nurse Practitioner MSN degrees online.
Financing Your Degree
Employer Assisted Tuition Assistance
Many healthcare employers offer employees tuition assistance as an employment benefit; especially, if you’re working on an advanced degree in nursing. You should check with your Human Resources department to see if your employer offers such a program.
Nurses Educational Funds Organization
Because of the critical need for nurses, and as part of the nationwide effort to attract more nursing faculty and nurse educators, the Nurses Educational Funds Organization provides funding for nurses working toward advanced degrees. This link will take you to the organization’s webpage where you can learn more: Nurses Educational Funds Organization.
School/Department Grants or Scholarships
While not all nursing schools are able to do so, some Schools of Nursing offer grants, scholarships or subsidies to graduate students pursuing a MSN, Nurse Practitioner or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. You should talk with someone in admissions, School of Nursing or department to see whether they offer such assistance and how you might qualify.
Federal Student Aid
The federal government supports financial assistance for students entering or returning to college. For graduate students, this assistance comes mostly in the form of student loans. These loans are typically at lower interest rates than you can receive from a commercial bank or institution; but, it’s worth it to check. There is an application deadline to qualify for this assistance so be certain to review the information on the Department of Education website Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Many schools offer reduced veterans’ tuition costs for active or retired military personnel. Some schools also extend that benefit to military dependents and spouses. If you are, or have been, a member of the military, be certain to check with your chosen school’s Bursar, or Treasurer, Offices to see if your chosen school participates in a reduced tuition benefit for the military.
Best Medical Degrees has researched, as a companion piece to our 10 Cheapest MSN Online Degrees, ten of the cheapest Nurse Practitioner degrees available online, using information from nursing accreditation associations, U.S. News and World Report and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ten cheapest, most affordable, programs from our research are listed below.
1. Columbus State University
Beginning in 1949 as junior college in Columbus, Georgia, Columbus State University grew to be a part of the Georgia State System in 1958. Ranking #46 in U.S. News and World Report’s Regional Universities, CSU also has been recognized for its online graduate programs in business and education. Currently providing six colleges, Columbus State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The School of Nursing offers both a part-time and full-time curriculum for those pursuing this 100% online Family Nurse Practitioner degree. Studies include Advanced Pathophysiology, Health Assessment for Advanced Practice Nurses, Health Care Delivery Models, Economics and Policy and Research Evidence Based Practice, etc. The program may be completed in as little as two years and is accredited by CCNE. Find out more details at Columbus State University
Length of Program: 44 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $201.00 (Georgia Residents); $801.00 (Non-Residents)
2. Georgia College State University
This public university was founded in 1913 in Atlanta, Georgia, and currently offers more than 250 degree programs with 100 fields of study. U.S. News and World Report has ranked as #8 nationally, the Graduate Online Nursing Program of the school’s Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions. The program provides two Nurse Practitioner degrees in Family Nurse Practitioner and a Family Nurse Practitioner with a concentration in Psychiatric Mental Health.
Accredited by CCNE and ACEN, the programs are offered 100% online. Core coursework for all three NP degrees include Perspectives of Advanced Nursing Practice, Healthcare Research and Statistical Analysis, Ensuring Healthcare Safety and Quality and Nursing Theory: Principles and Application. Information for the three degrees are located at Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions.
Length of Program: 39 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit: $388 (Georgia Residents); $1,249 (Non Residents)
3. East Carolina University
Founded in Greenville, North Carolina in 1959, East Carolina University has an enrollment of 28,000 students offering 12 colleges, 83 undergraduate and 76 masters degree programs. The school has been rated #194 in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities designation and its online graduate nursing program ranks in the nation’s top 25 by the magazine.
Currently, ECU provides a FNP degree with a concentration as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner; however, in 2017, the College of Nursing is rolling out Psych Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specialty. The College will be accepting applications for the new degree in the Spring 2017. NOTE: The College of Nursing applies a $125 per credit hour tuition differential for graduate nursing students. These funds are used to improve program quality and provide financial assistance for students demonstrating financial need and exceptional academic skills. To learn more about this FNP, visit East Carolina University College of Nursing
Length of Study: 42 Credit Hours
Tuition Estimate Per Credit Hour: $228.24 (NC Resident); $860.15 (Non Resident)
Recommended Online Nurse Practitioner Degree Programs
4. University of Southern Indiana
The University of Southern Indiana offers Nurse Practitioner specialties in: Adult-Gerontology, Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Located in Evansville, Indiana, USI has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as #54 for its online graduate nursing program. The university is a public institution established in 1965 as a regional campus for the Indiana State University; and, currently has four colleges and an enrollment of over 10,000 students.
Accredited by CCNE, the online graduate nursing student is expected to locate a local preceptor. The USI College of Nursing will assist the student in setting up and maintaining the required contracts and communication method between the preceptor and USI graduate nursing faculty. NOTE: Because of state regulations, students from some states are ineligible for this program. Be certain your state qualifies before making application. Detailed information on the three Nurse Practitioner concentrations, may be found at University of Southern Indiana.
Length of Study: 42 Credit Hours
Tuition Estimate Per Credit Hour: $337.92 (Indiana Residents); $666.19 (Non Residents)
5. Alcorn State University
Alcorn State University has a remarkable history dating back to 1871 and is the historically oldest black-land grant university in the country. Located in Mississippi, Alcorn State University was founded to educate descendants of former slaves. Today, Alcorn University has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report as #29 in the Top Public Schools, #68 in its Regional (Southern) Universities and #27 in its Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Alcorn State University is accredited by the on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, has five college and an enrollment of 4,000 students.
Through it’s Cora S. Balmat School of Nursing, located on ASU’s campus in Natchez, Mississippi, the university offers an online Family Nurse Practitioner degree which is accredited by ACEN. This FNP program includes coursework in Health Assessment, Advanced Pharmacology, Critical Care Management, Rural Healthcare Policy and a thesis or project option. Additional information and student catalog are available at Alcorn State University
Length of Program: 44 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $364.00
6. Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi
This highly recognized Texas university is home to the fourth largest Master of Science in Nursing in the state and offers a Family Nurse Practitioner concentration. Founded in 1947 by the General Baptist Association of Texas, the school is now affiliated with the Texas A&M University System. With an average enrollment of 11,000 students, the U.S. News and World Report has ranked the online graduate nursing program as one of the best in the nation.
Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the FNP degree requires core courses in Nursing Research, Science in Nursing, Diverse Care Environments and Introduction to Advanced Role. Graduates are eligible to sit for the National Certification Exam for Nurse Practitioners and requires 640 clinical hours in a clinical setting approved by the clinical instructor. You may find more information at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.
Length of Study: 49 Credit Hours
Tuition Estimate Per Credit Hour: $378 (Texas Resident); $694 (Non Resident)
7. Stony Brook University—SUNY
Based in Stony Brook, New York, this university was started in 1957 as a preparatory school for secondary school teachers of math and science; and, was designated a university by the New York Board of Regents. Now, Stony Brook University has twelve schools and colleges, including the CCNE accredited nursing school in the College of Medicine. Ranked #10 in its Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs, U.S. News and World Report, the university is ranked #89 in its National Universities rankings.
The School of Nursing provides six Nurse Practitioner concentrations in: Pediatric, Neonatal, Family Health, Psychiatric/Mental Health, Adult-Gerontological and Perinatal health. The school also provides a Midwifery Nurse Practitioner degree. Details on each concentration are available at Stony Brook University School of Nursing. The school holds accreditation from CCNE and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
Length of Study: 45 Credit Hours
Tuition Estimate Per Credit Hour: $453 (NY Residents); $925 (Non Resident)
8. University of Missouri—Kansas City
Founded in 1973, the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Nursing and Health Science has been ranked #23 for its graduate online nursing program by U.S. News and World Report. Opened in during the Great Depression in 1929 as the University of Kansas City, the public school joined the University of Missouri System in 1963; and now enjoys an enrollment of over 10,000 students.
The School of Nursing and Health Science MSN program, accredited by CCNE, provides three options in its Nurse Practitioner programs: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Educator. This is a hybrid program which allows students to complete core coursework online and requires on-campus residency for clinical work. State regulations may limit your participation, so be certain to verify that your state qualifies. Additional information on the Nurse Practitioner program and requirements, visit University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Length of Study: 53 Credit Hours
Tuition Estimate Per Credit Hour: $459.07 (Missouri Resident); $1,207.01 (Non Residents)
9. University of Southern Alabama
With ten colleges, this Mobile, Alabama university has an average student enrollment of 16,000, the University of Alabama was founded in 1963. The School of Nursing is accredited by CCNE and offers multiple Nurse Practitioner specialties. The school offers studies in Adult-Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family NP/Adult-Gerontological Acute Care NP, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner.
While offered online, some of the specialties require an on-campus orientation session, which lasts three days. Clinical practicum work may be done in a previously approved area; or, in the student’s home community, with the assistance of the USA Clinical Faculty. Find more information at University of Southern Alabama.
Length of Program: 36 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $469.00 (Alabama Residents); $938.00 (Non-Residents)
10. Indiana Wesleyan University
Founded in 1920, in Marion, Indiana, as a liberal arts and professional education university of the Wesleyan Church. The school now offers over 80 undergraduate degrees, 38 graduate degrees and 5 doctoral programs; and, has an educational outreach of 10,000 students at the school’s centers in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and their online programs. IWU has been recognized by “G.I.Jobs” as “Military Friendly School”, #12 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Value Schools, #25 Best College for Veterans and #30 in Best Regional Schools.
Indiana Wesleyan University’s School of Nursing provides a Family Nurse Practitioner degree which focuses on theory, evidence-based practice, research, as well as critical thinking and clinical problem solving techniques and skills. This is a hybrid program and some on-campus residency may be required. The nursing school is accredited by CCNE, AACN and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF). Find more information at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Length of Program: 49 Credit Hours
Estimated Tuition Cost Per Credit Hour: $595.00