6 Best Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs in Colorado | 2024

Colorado offers several highly respected Nurse Practitioner programs, preparing students for the greatest levels of advanced practice within their chosen specialization. Programs

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Whether you're a practicing nurse seeking to advance your career or generally curious about the role of Nurse Practitioners (NPs), you've come to the right place. Discover the best NP programs in Colorado as we explore their nuances, costs, salary expectations, and more.

What Is an NP Program?

An NP Program in Colorado is a graduate-level educational track tailored for registered nurses aiming to progress to the role of nurse practitioners. These programs delve into advanced clinical practices and theoretical knowledge, preparing nurses to provide a broader and more specialized range of healthcare services.

NP Specializations

There are many NP specializations available in Colorado, with some of the most common being:

Other specializations include areas like oncology, neonatal, emergency, and acute care.

NP Coursework

The coursework in Colorado's NP programs includes a wide array of subjects, integrating advanced nursing theory, research methodologies, and specialized clinical practice areas. While the specific courses may vary based on the chosen program and specialty, typical coursework includes:

  • Advanced Techniques in Health Assessment
  • Principles of Advanced Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology at an Advanced Level
  • Primary Care Best Practices
  • Healthcare Policy and Ethical Issues
  • Clinical Decision-Making Strategies
  • Specialized courses tailored to specific focus areas such as Family Practice, Pediatrics, Adult-Gerontology, etc.

NP Clinical Training

Clinical training is a key component of NP programs in Colorado, offering practical experience in a variety of healthcare settings. The specifics of this training can differ based on the chosen program and specialty, but generally, it includes:

  • A required number of clinical hours, typically around 630 hours, varying with the program's focus.
  • Clinical rotations across diverse settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and community health centers.
  • Supervised clinical practice under the mentorship of experienced nurse practitioners and physicians.
  • Specialized training in areas like acute care, primary care, pediatrics, or gerontology, depending on the program's specialization.

Best NP Programs in Colorado - Online & Campus

The following schools have been selected based on allnurses' methodology of surveying our readers to understand what they value most, with the addition of graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, price, mode, duration, and admission rates of hundreds of the most prominent nursing schools in the United States.

1. Regis University - Denver

Regis University's Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Practitioner program is designed for those seeking greater autonomy in their nursing careers. The program is attractive for its potential salary benefits and the positive job outlook, with the field expected to grow significantly. Nurse practitioners from Regis University are known for their holistic approach to health and wellness, which is highly valued by patients.

Program Highlights:

  • Specialty Tracks: Offers five specialty tracks including Family, Pediatric, Adult-Gerontology, Psychiatric, and Women's Health.
  • High Satisfaction: Graduates and patients report high levels of satisfaction with the program and the care provided by NPs, respectively.
  • Expert Faculty: Classroom professors and NP clinical faculty are practicing NPs with extensive experience, bringing real-world expertise to the classroom.
  • Comprehensive Curriculum: Includes a 24-credit core curriculum covering advanced pathophysiology, nursing theory, research, pharmacology, leadership, and more.
  • Preparation for Certification: Graduates are prepared to sit for national certification, with the program tailored to the specific requirements of each specialty.

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • Completed prerequisite statistics course
  • Resume, Statement of Purpose, two letters of recommendation, and an interview
  • History of an unencumbered registered nurse license

2. Colorado State University - Pueblo

The Master of Science with a Major in Nursing at Colorado State University - Pueblo is designed to integrate evidence-based practice, ethical decision-making, and technology into advanced nursing practice. The program focuses on utilizing interprofessional collaboration to provide safe, quality patient-centered care.

Program Highlights:

  • Specialization Areas: Students can select a concentration area to specialize in, including Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult/Gerontology Acute Care/Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Educator.
  • Career Preparation: The degree prepares students for careers as nurse administrators, health policy experts, and clinical nurse leaders.
  • Focus on Interprofessional Collaboration: Emphasizes the importance of working collaboratively across various healthcare disciplines.

3. University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus - Aurora

The Master of Science in Nursing program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is designed to prepare nurses for direct and indirect care roles. The program equips graduates to make clinical, administrative, or policy decisions to promote health in various settings, including wellness and acute or chronic illness situations. It also focuses on developing, managing, and evaluating care within communities and healthcare systems.

Program Highlights:

  • Accreditation: The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Specialty Programs: Students can select from 12 different specialties, including Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Health Care Informatics, Nurse-Midwifery, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and more.
  • Career Paths for Future Leaders: Structured to provide a foundation for leadership roles in nursing.
  • Eligibility for National Certification: Graduates of the APRN track are eligible to apply for national certification by examination, which is required for licensure in each state, including Colorado.

4. Colorado Mesa University - Grand Junction

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree at Colorado Mesa University is tailored for nurses seeking advanced practice roles as Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) and nurse leaders in healthcare systems. The program prepares graduates as experts in primary care delivery, emphasizing critical thinking, leadership, and public policy skills.

Program Highlights:

  • Online Delivery with Practical Components: Courses are delivered online, allowing students to reside in their home communities, with options to travel for clinical rotations, objective structured clinical exams (OSCEs), and graduate program student intensives (GPSIs).
  • Extensive Clinical Hours: The program includes a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours, with approximately 80% completed in primary care settings and 20% in specialty settings or during the Scholarly Project.
  • Focus on Primary Care: Prepares graduates for expert roles in primary care, with an emphasis on creating changes in healthcare practice at all levels.
  • Career Opportunities: Graduates often work in leadership positions within healthcare and academic systems, including roles as providers, administrators, and executives.

Admission Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university
  • GPA of 3.0 or better in baccalaureate nursing coursework

5. University of Northern Colorado - Greely

The BSN-DNP FNP program at the University of Northern Colorado is designed for nurses with a bachelor's degree. This clinical doctorate program incorporates courses to prepare graduates for the FNP role and as leaders in clinical research. The program aims to empower graduates to affect health outcomes not only for individual patients and families but also on a global level.

Program Highlights:

  • Hybrid Program: A part-time program that combines online and on-campus educational experiences.
  • Focus on Underserved and Rural Populations: Prepares advocates for reform in primary health care, particularly for underserved and rural populations.
  • Comprehensive Curriculum: Includes leadership, business, finance, policy, informatics, and clinical expertise as a family provider.
  • Clinical Research Project: Each student completes a clinical research project focused on improving patient care and implementing evidence into practice settings.

6. University of Colorado - Colorado Springs

The Master of Science in Nursing Practice (MSN) program at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) prepares professional nurses for primary care or behavioral health care settings. This online MSN program is designed to enhance the skills and knowledge of baccalaureate-prepared nurses, focusing on evidence-based practices, ethical principles, and culturally sensitive care.

Program Highlights:

  • Online Format: The program is entirely online, allowing flexibility for working professionals.
  • Accreditation: Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  • Specialization Options: Offers three options of advanced study leading to a Master of Science in Nursing degree: Primary Care Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
  • Comprehensive Curriculum: In addition to specialty courses, the program includes research, health care policy, nursing theory, clinical problem-solving, and critical thinking.

NP Prerequisites & Requirements in Colorado

In Colorado, like in many other states, individuals interested in enrolling in NP programs must meet certain prerequisites and requirements.

NP Prerequisites in Colorado

The prerequisites for NP programs in Colorado typically include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): Most NP programs require applicants to have completed a BSN from an accredited nursing program.
  • Registered Nurse (RN) Licensure: Applicants must hold a current and unrestricted RN license in the state of Colorado.
  • Clinical Experience: A specified amount of clinical experience as a registered nurse is often required. This can vary by program but usually involves one to two years of full-time nursing experience.
  • Academic Performance: A minimum GPA, often around 3.0 or higher, in undergraduate coursework is usually required.
  • Prerequisite Courses: Certain undergraduate courses may be required, such as anatomy, physiology, Microbiology, and statistics.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Most programs require letters of recommendation, often from academic and professional references.
  • Personal Statement: A written statement of career goals and reasons for pursuing an NP degree is typically required.
  • Resume or CV: A current resume or CV detailing educational and professional experiences is usually needed.

NP Requirements in Colorado

Once admitted into an NP Program in Colorado, students must fulfill the following requirements to graduate:

  • Coursework: Completion of all required coursework, which typically includes advanced pharmacology, advanced health assessment, advanced pathophysiology, and specialty-focused courses.
  • Clinical Hours: Completion of a set number of supervised clinical hours in appropriate settings. This number can vary but is often around 500-700 hours.
  • Capstone Project or Thesis: Some programs may require a capstone project or thesis demonstrating the application of learned skills and knowledge.
  • Certification Exam: Upon completion of the program, graduates are usually required to pass a national certification exam in their specialty area to practice as an NP.
  • State Licensure: Graduates must apply for and obtain NP licensure in Colorado, which may have additional state-specific requirements.

NP Salary Expectations in Colorado

According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average median salary for an NP in Colorado is $116,440, which is 8.08% lower than the national median of $126,680.

The highest-paying states for NPs are:

  • California: $158,130
  • New Jersey: $143,250
  • Massachusetts: $138,700
  • Oregon: $136,250
  • Nevada: $136,230

It's important to note that NP salary expectations can vary based on many factors including level of education (MSN vs DNP), years of experience, employer, and more. Prospective students need to consider the context when developing their expectations.

NP Salary by State

Compare several specializations by state with our comprehensive nursing salary guide.

StateTotal EmployedHourly MeanAnnual Mean
District of Columbia730$63.11$131,270
New Hampshire1,510$60.47$125,780
New Jersey6,640$68.87$143,250
New Mexico1,650$62.29$129,560
New York17,670**
North Carolina8,040$55.03$114,450
North Dakota570$54.78$113,940
Rhode Island1,390$60.21$125,250
South Carolina3,960$52.47$109,130
South Dakota810$55.58$115,610
West Virginia1,640$51.34$106,790

Are NP Programs in Colorado Worth It?

Deciding whether an NP Program is worth it in Colorado requires considering various pros and cons.

Pros of NP Programs in Colorado

  1. Growing Healthcare Demand: With a rising need for healthcare services, especially in rural and underserved areas, Colorado offers increasing opportunities for NPs, ensuring job security and availability.
  2. Competitive Salary Prospects: NPs in Colorado often earn competitive salaries, which can be higher than the national average for nurse practitioners, making the financial investment in education more justifiable.
  3. Full Practice Authority: Colorado is one of the states that grant full practice authority to NPs, allowing them to practice independently, which can lead to greater job satisfaction and autonomy in patient care.
  4. Diverse Specializations: NP programs in Colorado offer a range of specializations, enabling nurses to pursue careers in fields that align with their interests, such as family health, psychiatry, or pediatrics.
  5. Career Advancement: An NP degree can open doors to advanced practice roles, leadership positions, and opportunities in healthcare policy and education, offering a significant career growth trajectory.

Cons of NP Programs in Colorado

  1. High Educational Costs: The cost of NP programs can be substantial, leading to financial considerations and potential student debt, which is a significant factor for many.
  2. Intensive Time Commitment: Completing an NP Program requires a significant time investment, often several years, which can be challenging for those balancing work and personal responsibilities.
  3. Competitive Admission: NP programs can be competitive, with stringent admission criteria, making it challenging for some applicants to secure a spot.
  4. Increased Responsibility: NPs carry a higher level of responsibility, including diagnosing and treating patients, which can be stressful and demanding.
  5. Continuing Education Requirements: Maintaining licensure as an NP in Colorado requires ongoing education and recertification, necessitating a commitment to continuous professional development.

Pursuing an NP Program in Colorado can be a worthwhile endeavor for those seeking to advance in the nursing field, especially considering the state's favorable practice environment and growing healthcare needs. However, it's important to carefully consider the financial and time investments, as well as the long-term career benefits and personal fulfillment that this path offers.

Importance of Attending an Accredited NP Program

Attending an accredited NP Program in Colorado is crucial for several reasons:

  • Quality of Education: Accreditation ensures the program meets high educational standards, providing a comprehensive and up-to-date curriculum.
  • Eligibility for Certification: Graduates from accredited programs are typically eligible to sit for national certification exams, which are required for practice as an NP.
  • State Licensure: Most state nursing boards require completion of an accredited program for NP licensure.
  • Career Opportunities: Employers often prefer or require candidates who have graduated from accredited programs, ensuring a higher standard of training.
  • Further Education and Transferability: Credits from an accredited program are more likely to be recognized if you decide to pursue further education or transfer to another institution.

Accrediting bodies include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

NP Programs Near Me

Discover NP programs in a state near you:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Can I complete an NP Program in Colorado through online courses?

Many universities in Colorado offer online NP programs, providing flexibility for students who may be working or have other commitments. These programs typically include both online coursework and in-person clinical practicums.

Q: What is the role of informatics in NP graduate programs?

Informatics is increasingly integrated into NP graduate programs, focusing on how to use data and technology to improve patient care. It covers topics like electronic health records, data analysis, and telehealth, which are essential in modern healthcare.

Q: How many credit hours are typically required for NP programs in Colorado?

The number of credit hours required for NP programs in Colorado varies by specialization and degree level. Generally, master's level programs require around 40-70 credit hours, while Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs may require more.

Q: What is the importance of evidence-based practice in NP education?

Evidence-based practice is a cornerstone of NP education, emphasizing the use of current research and clinical expertise in making patient care decisions. It ensures that NPs provide the most effective and up-to-date treatments.

Q: Are there part-time NP programs available in Colorado, and do they include on-campus requirements?

Many institutions in Colorado offer part-time NP programs to accommodate students who need a more flexible schedule. While part-time programs take longer to complete, they often include on-campus components, especially for clinical competencies and practicums, alongside online coursework.

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