Choosing a FNP Program: USA vs. UC??


  • Specializes in ED, L&D. Has 8 years experience.

Hello Nurses!

I am seeking advice regarding selecting a FNP program. I have been accepted at both the University of South Alabama's [uSA] Online FNP program & University of Cincinnati's [uC] Online FNP Program.

Some background info about me... My goal is to graduate NP school in two years. I am married and have one child, a 5 year old son. I am 36 yrs old and plan to have another child at some point (can't put this off too much longer!) I graduated with honors from both my ADN and BSN program. I have been an RN since 2008, worked full-time for 6 years as an RN in the ED, and almost 2 yrs in L&D. I am now working PRN (8-16hrs per week) as a peri-op staff nurse to pursue my MSN full time.

Initially, I evaluated the programs based on accreditation, pass rate for certification exams, & cost, but wondering if there is another criteria I should consider more that would help me choose the best fit for me?

Here are some comparison details:

Both programs are CCNE accredited, UC also has regional accreditation.

Both programs give you eligibility to sit for the ANCC and AANP certification exams.

Length: USA- 7 semesters; UC- 6 semesters

Credits/Clinical Hours: USA- 45 cr/ 600 hrs; UC- 50cr/ 672 hrs

Cost: USA- $547/hr; UC- $739/hr

Pass rate: USA- 97%; UC- 76%

As I live in the South East US, the USA program is most familiar to me, due to it's proximity. I know many graduates and the name is familiar to most health professionals in my area. I do know one UC graduate and she had very good things to say about the program. Most of the USA grads say "okay" remarks, but overall would recommend the program. While USA is well know around my area, UC also is well known nationally. They offer both a DNP and PhD program, while USA only offers a DNP. If I go beyond an MSN, it will be the PhD path, so UC does have that advantage.

One detail about USA that is concerning is some core classes are only available once a year. In other words if something happened-- you failed the course or had to skip a semester, you would be a year behind! BRYQJ7kUUyGmmaTpMgDCQpWiZx4Vysr19gcCVawACMbL5+wlFJenpKUCD8vOyMDAMt3QPF4YeY2AAAAAElFTkSuQmCC I questioned UC regarding this and they assured me that all courses were available every semester, so they are much more flexible with the schedule. We are going to be trying for a second baby soon, so this is important to me.

Another detail that is concerning regarding USA has been there registration process. It has been less than organized and would rate them a D- for ease of use and assistance during the process (I would rate UC an A+). I had to resubmit all my initial application materials to USA during the application process twice (not counting my primary submission). Multiple people emailed me asking for the same material, days apart, saying I never submitted certain documents. On the other hand, UC's process was seamless and to add to this smooth process, they have an advisor call you to offer assistance, multiple times throughout the process. So my initial impression of the two programs is UC seems to be more organized than USA and their technology seems superior as well. Having completed both an ADN-RN and BSN-RN program, I have found the overall organization of a program/school can be pretty important. As some programs can create a great deal of stress with their disorganization that takes away from academics.

Advantages found thus far:

USA is cheaper, has a better pass rate, and is well known name wise in my immediate geographical area.

UC is a shorter program, has more flexibility with the schedule, seems to be very organized & more technologically advanced, and offers a PhD program.

I spent hours researching which schools to apply to, so I feel both programs are such good choices! I was not prepared however to be accepted to both and now have to choose between the two?!?

Any and all information about either program or general advice about FNP programs is GREATLY appreciated!!! Thank you in advance for your words of wisdom!!!

Bumex, DNP, NP

1 Article; 384 Posts

Specializes in Assistant Professor, Nephrology, Internal Medicine. Has 13 years experience.

Can you cite your sources on pass rates? I have found UC is 85-90%, and USA has not actually published anything that I can find. Also, you have to look at which exam they are taking (AANP vs ANCC). One isn't necessarily harder than the other, but the AANP is geared more towards a clinical focus, whereas ANCC is a mix between clinical and nonclinical questions.


34 Posts

Specializes in ED, L&D. Has 8 years experience.

Good point. I did not think to ask either person from the schools which exam pass rates they were quoting. I assumed it was the combined score for both, since you are allowed to take both.

The pass rate for USA was given to me in writing via email from a school representative.

The pass rate for UC was given to me verbally via the phone from a UC representative. I will note that I have contacted another person to verify the UC number, but haven't heard back. I will ask about whether it is for both exams or not at that time.

As far as them posting them publicly, I have found only a handful of schools that do this. Not really sure why it is not openly discussed with all details of the program. It is something everyone has a right to know about. Wish there was more transparency with this subject for sure.

Bumex, DNP, NP

1 Article; 384 Posts

Specializes in Assistant Professor, Nephrology, Internal Medicine. Has 13 years experience.

Regardless of pass rates, I have d/w quality with many other students going through other programs. The main theme is that regardless what school you attend, NP school is what you put into it. If you work hard and study, you will do fine!

Specializes in Hospitalist Medicine. Has 8 years experience.

If you really want to have baby #2, why don't you wait to go back to school until after you're settled in with baby? If you end up getting pg while in grad school, you're going to be stressed to the max. School will always be there and available. Baby, you've got a set time period for that. If you spent 2+ years going through NP school, only to get pg and not able to work immediately, it might be more difficult to get a job. You need to weigh what's more important to you at this point. It just seems, IMHO, more logical to wait to go through NP school until after you have baby #2.

Good luck with your decision! :D


158 Posts

Specializes in CVSICU, Cardiac Cath Lab. Has 4 years experience.

I'm halfway through UC's FNP program, feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions about the program.

Good luck deciding :)

cjcsoon2bnp, MSN, RN, NP

8 Articles; 1,156 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Nursing.

To the OP, the other question I would ask myself is in terms of clinical preceptor requirements for each school and how much support you will get from each program for finding clinical preceptors. The problem with many online programs (I am an online student as well) is that you often have to find your own preceptors and unless you have some really good networking skills/local connections it can be very difficult to find a good preceptor and it can potentially set you back in your program. I would inquire with each school about their clinical practicum policies and what clinical affiliate site agreements have been already established by other graduates. Best of luck!

!Chris :specs:


34 Posts

Specializes in ED, L&D. Has 8 years experience.

Great points Chris! Neither schools help secure clinical sites.g


34 Posts

Specializes in ED, L&D. Has 8 years experience.

The schools that I found that help cost $$$$$!


34 Posts

Specializes in ED, L&D. Has 8 years experience.


I did that between my ADN & BSN.... Then a year or two turned into 6 years! I have some fertility issues, so to put aside my academic goals for a "maybe" baby is probably not the most logical choice.

And my husband is a pretty awesome guy. He's willing to take on the financial responsibility for our family for the next 2-3 years. And all the cooking and whatever else it takes for us to expand our family and graduate NP school. Did I mention he's pretty amazing? í ½í¸