As the U.S. healthcare system expands, nurse practitioners (NPs) play an increasingly important role providing primary and specialized care in a variety of settings. These advanced practice registered nurses offer many of the same patient services as physicians, with 69% delivering primary care and 65% certified as family nurse practitioners.
The majority of NPs find employment in physicians' offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 45% growth in NP positions between 2019 and 2029, making it an ideal time to enter an online nurse practitioner program.
Students interested in this advanced nursing career with concerns about educational costs can use this guide to learn about the cheapest online NP programs. Although program length depends on the specialization and full-time versus part-time enrollment, most distance learners finish their degree requirements in 2-3 years. Online NP programs provide a flexible option for nurses who want to pursue a master's while maintaining their personal and work responsibilities.
Top 10 Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs 2020
Applying to an Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Program
A nurse practitioner must hold a master of science in nursing (MSN). Most MSN programs require a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and a valid registered nurse (RN) license. Some schools offer RN-to-MSN options that enable RNs with an associate degree or a non-nursing bachelor's degree to transition into an MSN program.
MSN programs usually require a minimum GPA between 2.0 and 3.0. Applicants must submit official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and, in some cases, GRE scores. Many programs require between 1-2 years of nursing experience.
Most programs have established prerequisites in areas like anatomy and physiology, nutrition, microbiology, and statistics. Students admitted to an MSN program without a nursing degree who have not taken these prerequisites must complete these courses before they can earn master's level credits.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to become a nurse practitioner?
Depending on the program and enrollment status, an online degree can take two or more years to complete. Length also varies based on the student's specialization and number of transfer credits and prerequisites taken. Bridge programs that admit RNs without their BSN or related degree may take 2.5-4 years to complete. Online NP programs require in-person clinical experience that may take more time.
What is accreditation and why is it important?
State nursing boards only grant licenses to degree-holders from accredited nursing schools. Accreditation also determines financial aid eligibility and employment opportunities. The two major accrediting agencies for nursing, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, ensure that MSN programs meet nationally established academic and professional standards.
Is a nurse practitioner a good job?
NP careers rank among the most rewarding and highest paid in the nursing field. These APRNs deliver the same primary and preventive patient care services as physicians but spend considerably less time and money to earn their degree. The demand for NPs continues to expand across the nation, especially in underserved areas of high-need populations.
What can I do as a nurse practitioner?
NPs find employment in all types of healthcare settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and medical clinics, diagnosing and treating patients, assessing medical tests, and coordinating with other healthcare providers. Their advanced training also prepares them for administrative and policy positions. NPs typically work with specific patient populations, including infants, children, adolescents, the elderly, cancer patients, and those with mental health issues.