5 Best Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs in Iowa | 2024

Take your nursing career to the next level with the best Nurse Practitioner (NP) programs in Iowa. Programs

Article fact-checked by our Editorial Team.

Iowa offers several highly-regarded Nurse Practitioner (NP) programs, preparing students for the highest level of advanced practice registered nursing (APRN). Learn more about them below, including costs, salary expectations, and more.


Best NP Programs in Iowa

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. University of Iowa - Iowa City

The University of Iowa presents a diverse array of nurse practitioner programs, including six BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) NP specializations and nine dual NP concentration tracks. Additionally, for those already holding a non-APRN MSN, the university offers six tailored MSN to DNP pathways and a selection of post-graduate certificates.

Graduates from these programs emerge with the ability to apply core scientific principles to nursing, lead in organizational and healthcare systems, implement evidence-based practices, and utilize technology to transform patient care. They also gain the skills necessary for health policy advocacy, interdisciplinary collaboration, population health management, and specialized clinical practice.

BSN to DNP NP Program Overview: 

  • NP Specialties & Program Requirements
    • AGAC NP; 75 credit hours; 1,090 clinical hours
    • AGPC NP; 79 credit hours; 1,000 clinical hours 
    • FNP; 83 credit hours, 1,000 clinical hours 
    • PNP Acute Care; 78 credit hours; 1,090
    • PNP Primary Care; 77 credit hours, 1,000 clinical hours
    • PMHNP; 76 credit hours; 1,000 clinical hours 
  • Duration: All the single NP specialties can be completed in 3-4 years depending on part or full-time study plans. 
  • Tuition Rates: $518 per credit hour 
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

The MSN to DNP program specialties offered are the same however they will require different credit and clinical hours based on your previous degree. 

Program Highlights:

  • Mode of Delivery: Hybrid format combining online and on-campus classes.
  • Class Size: Limited to 24 students, ensuring personalized attention and a supportive learning environment.
  • Job Placement Rate: 100%, reflecting the high demand for program graduates.
  • Length: Offers both a 3-Year and a 4-Year Plan of Study to accommodate different student needs.
  • Application Deadline: February 1st.

2. Morningside University - Sioux City

Morningside University's acclaimed Master of Science in Nursing program offers three distinct Nurse Practitioner concentrations. Students enrolled in these programs benefit from curriculum that integrates evidence-based practice, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the latest in healthcare technology. Graduates are prepared to lead and innovate in a variety of healthcare settings.

BSN to MSN NP Program Overview: 

  • NP Specialties and Program Requirements: 
    • FNP; 47 credit hours; 600 clinical hours
    • AGPCNP; 46 credit hours; 600 clinical hours
    • ACACNP; 46 credit hours; 750 clinical hours
  • Duration: The MSN NP pathways can be completed in as little as 4 semesters. 
  • Mode: Primarily online with in-person clinicals 
  • Tuition: $635 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

Program Highlights:

  • Career Integration: Designed to complement ongoing careers, allowing students to maintain their professional roles while enrolled.
  • Flexible Online Learning: Courses are delivered online by professional faculty, offering practical education with adaptability to student schedules.
  • Affordable Tuition: Morningside boasts one of the lowest graduate tuition rates in the nation, enhancing accessibility.

3. Clarke University - Dubuque

Clarke University's DNP program offers a unique and personalized approach to advancing nursing practice, focusing on improving patient outcomes through evidence-based practice. The program is designed to enhance the skills and abilities of nurses to care for the whole person, preparing them for a variety of roles in the healthcare industry. DNP students at Clarke University have the option to choose from Family NP or Psychiatric NP concentrations. 

BSN to DNP NP Program Overview: 

  • NP Specialties and Program Requirements: 
    • FNP; 83 credit hours
    • PMHNP; 81 credit hours
  • Clinical Hours: 1,000 with a focus on the concentration you choose. 
  • Duration: 3 years at a full-time pace or 5 years at a part-time pace.
  • Tuition: $875 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

Key Features of the Program:

  • Cohort Size: Limited to 20 students, ensuring personalized attention and support from faculty known for their professional experience and dedication to teaching.
  • Clinical Placement Options: Options available near Dubuque, Iowa, or across the country.
  • Certification Pass Rate: DNP students have an average 100% pass rate on national certification boards.
  • Job Placement Rate: Licensed DNP graduates enjoy a 100% job placement rate in clinics and health centers nationwide.

4. Briar Cliff University - Sioux City

Briar Cliff University's NP Program is designed for nurses aiming to advance their careers by specializing as FNPs, Primary Care AGNPs, or PMHNPs. These programs are part of Briar Cliff University's long tradition of nursing excellence, evolving from its founding in 1930 to offer highly sought online and graduate nursing degrees.

BSN to MSN NP Program Overview:

  • NP Specialties and Credit Requirements: 
    • FNP; 54 credit hours
    • PMHNP; 52 credit hours
    • AGPCNP; 51 credit hours
  • Clinical Hours: 750 with a focus on the concentration you choose. 
  • Duration: 3 years at a part-time pace
  • Tuition: $585 per credit hour, with an estimated annual tuition of $10,530
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

Program Highlights:

  • GRE and Thesis Requirements: The GRE is not required for admission, and no thesis is required to obtain the master's degree.
  • Online Courses: The Master of Science in Nursing is a three-year part-time program with coursework primarily online, except for the Summer health assessment course and clinicals. FNP & AGNP students must attend 6 mandatory on-site days at the BCU campus.
  • Clinical Experience: Emphasizes experience in rural, underserved, or multicultural settings to provide primary care to those most in need.
  • Faculty Support: Despite being an online program, BCU ensures a personal touch with caring, veteran faculty mentors available for support throughout the program.

5. Allen College - Waterloo

Allen College offers a seamless transition from a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to a DNP, as well as an MSN program. These programs emphasize the development of skilled, compassionate nurses who are prepared to meet the challenges of the healthcare industry. With a focus on both practical skills and theoretical knowledge, graduates are well-equipped to provide high-quality care and take on leadership roles within the healthcare sector. Post-graduate certificates are also available, with specializations in:

BSN to NP Program Overview:

  • NP Specialties
    • Acute Care PNP
    • Acute Care AGNP
    • FNP
    • PMHNP
  • Credit Hours:
    • MSN NP requires 45 credit hours for all NP specialties
    • DNP NP requires 68 credit hours for all NP specialties
  • Duration: 
    • MSN NP will take just under 3 years at a full-time pace of 4 years at a part-time pace
    • DNP NP will take 3 years at a full-time pace or 4-5 years at a part-time pace
  • Tuition: $28,440 estimated annual tuition
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

APRN MSN-prepared nurses have the opportunity to pursue various specialties through post-graduate certificate programs. Additionally, the college offers pathways to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) for both ADN-prepared and MSN-prepared nurses, ensuring options for every nurse, regardless of where they are in their professional journey.


What Is an NP Program?

An NP Program is an advanced educational course designed for registered nurses (RNs) who wish to expand their scope of practice. These programs typically lead to an MSN or a DNP degree but are also offered as graduate certificates.

Graduates of NP programs are qualified to offer a range of healthcare services, including diagnosing and treating medical conditions, prescribing medications, and managing patient care. They often work independently or in collaboration with physicians and other healthcare professionals.

NP Coursework in Iowa

NP coursework in Iowa typically includes:

  • Advanced Pathophysiology: Understanding the changes in normal body functions that result from diseases.
  • Advanced Pharmacology: Detailed study of how drugs interact with the human body and impact diseases.
  • Advanced Health Assessment: Training in comprehensive physical and psychological assessment of patients across different age groups.
  • Primary Care Practices: Focusing on the primary healthcare needs of various populations.
  • Specialty Courses: Depending on the NP's chosen specialty, courses may include pediatrics, gerontology, family care, psychiatric-mental health, or women's health.
  • Healthcare Policy and Ethics: Understanding the legal, ethical, and policy aspects of healthcare.
  • Research Methods: Training in research methodologies relevant to clinical practice.
  • Clinical Decision Making: Enhancing skills in making effective and informed clinical decisions.

NP Clinical Training in Iowa

NP clinical training in Iowa commonly includes:

  • Primary Care Rotations: The development of experience in family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, women's health, and more.
  • Specialty Rotations: Depending on the focus of the NP, rotations might include oncology, emergency, cardiology, or other specialties.
  • Long-Term Care Settings: Develops experience in managing chronic conditions in settings like nursing homes.
  • Simulation Labs: Using high-tech simulation tools to practice clinical skills in a controlled environment.

While the above coursework and clinical training are common, students should research each program of interest as it may vary per educational institution.

NP Specializations

While many NP specializations are available, some of the most common include:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner: FNPs provide healthcare services across all ages, genders, and diseases, focusing on health prevention and promotion in family practice settings.
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: PMHNPs provide mental health services, including diagnosis, treatment, and management of psychiatric disorders.
  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner: AGNPs focus on the healthcare of adults, including the elderly, to manage and prevent diseases and address the unique challenges of aging.
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: PNPs specialize in providing comprehensive medical treatment for infants, children, and adolescents, including preventative care and disease management.
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner: NNPs provide care for newborns, particularly those who are premature or have health issues in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).
  • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner: WHNPs focus on providing specialized care in women's health, including reproductive, gynecological, prenatal, postnatal, and other female-specific health issues.

Other specialties include aesthetic nurse practitioner, emergency nurse practitioner, and oncology nurse practitioner, while subspecialties such as acute care or primary care can be applied depending on the practice setting.

NP Prerequisites & Requirements in Iowa

Students who wish to enroll in an NP Program in Iowa must meet several prerequisites and requirements to ensure they're able to meet the demands of the education and role:

  • Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN): Most NP programs require applicants to have completed a BSN from an accredited nursing program.
  • RN Licensure: Applicants must hold a current and unencumbered RN license.
  • Clinical Experience: A specified amount of clinical experience as an RN is often required, typically ranging from one to two years, depending on the program.
  • Minimum GPA: Many programs require a minimum GPA, often around 3.0, in undergraduate coursework.
  • Completion of Specific Undergraduate Courses: This may include courses in anatomy, physiology, Microbiology, and statistics.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Often required from academic and professional references.
  • Background Check: Undergo a criminal background check as part of the application and licensure process.

NP Program Costs

For aspiring Nurse Practitioners in Iowa, the financial planning for NP programs is an essential step. Below is a summary of key financial considerations and strategies for managing these expenses:

Financial Aspects to Consider:

  • Tuition Fees: Variable costs depending on public or private institutions, with potential resident discounts.
  • Additional School Fees: Costs that go beyond tuition, including application and lab fees.
  • Materials and Gear: Expenses for textbooks, medical instruments, and clinical attire.
  • Clinical Training Expenses: Costs associated with practical training, such as travel and uniforms.
  • Certification and Licensing Fees: Necessary fees for exams and licensure post-graduation.
  • Living Expenses: Daily costs for full-time students, such as housing and meals.

Strategies for Financial Aid:

  • Diverse Aid Sources: Grants, loans, and scholarships, with an emphasis on early application.
  • Scholarship Opportunities: Research scholarships offered by various healthcare and professional organizations.
  • Loan Terms Understanding: Comparing federal and private loans to ensure wise borrowing decisions.

NP Salary Expectations in Iowa

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median national salary for NPs is $124,680, or $59.94 per hour.

In Iowa, nurse practitioners earn a mean annual income of $128,180 or $61.62 per hour. The state reports employing 2,610 nurse practitioners and has fewer NPs than the national average. 

The top-paying states for NPs are:

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

Industries with the highest levels of employment for NPs include:

  • Offices of Physicians: 122,830 employed
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: 58,080 employed
  • Outpatient Care Centers: 23,760 employed
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners: 10,950 employed
  • Home Health Care Services: 7,460 employed

Job Outlook for NPs

The future looks bright for Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and other Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), including Nurse Anesthetists and Nurse Midwives, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2022, there were approximately 323,900 professionals in these roles. Looking ahead to 2032, the field is expected to experience a significant 38% growth in job opportunities, leading to an estimated 123,600 new positions.

This optimistic outlook is driven by demographic shifts, particularly the growth and aging of the population. Originally established in the 1960s to address pediatric healthcare needs, the role of NPs has expanded to encompass a broader spectrum of healthcare services, including mental health and geriatric care. As the healthcare needs of the population continue to evolve with demographic changes, the demand for and importance of NPs are expected to increase accordingly.

Are NP Programs in Iowa Worth It?

Whether an NP Program is worth it in Iowa depends on individual career goals, interests, and the desire for advanced practice. While becoming an NP comes with many advantages, it's also important to consider their disadvantages.

Pros of NP Programs in Iowa

  • Higher Earning Potential: NPs generally earn a higher salary compared to registered nurses, reflecting their advanced skills and responsibilities.
  • Increased Autonomy: NPs often have more independence in their practice, including diagnosing conditions, prescribing medications, and developing treatment plans.
  • Specialization Opportunities: NP programs offer various specializations, such as family practice, pediatrics, or psychiatry, allowing for focused career paths in areas of interest.
  • High Demand: There is a growing demand for healthcare services and a shortage of primary care providers, which increases job security and opportunities for NPs.
  • Positive Impact on Patient Care: NPs play a crucial role in improving access to healthcare, particularly in underserved areas, and often provide a holistic approach to patient care.

Cons of NP Programs in Iowa

  1. Cost and Time Investment: NP programs can be expensive and time-consuming, often requiring several years of study beyond the registered nursing level.
  2. Stress and Responsibility: The role of an NP comes with increased responsibilities and decision-making, which can be stressful and demanding.
  3. State-by-State Regulation Variability: The scope of practice for NPs varies by state, which can limit practice authority in some regions.
  4. Competitive Admission Process: Gaining admission into NP programs can be competitive, requiring excellent academic records and professional experience.
  5. Continuing Education Requirements: NPs must engage in ongoing education and recertification to maintain their licensure and stay current with medical advancements.

NPs enjoy a high degree of autonomy, increased responsibility, and the opportunity to make a significant impact on patient care. They often have higher earning potential compared to RNs and can specialize in areas of healthcare that interest them most. However, these programs require a substantial investment of time, effort, and finances, and the increased responsibilities come with their own set of challenges.

Iowa NP Scope of Practice Regulations

As a prospective Nurse Practitioner (NP), it's important to understand the practice regulations in Iowa. NPs in Iowa have Full Practice authority, allowing them to independently conduct patient assessments, diagnose conditions, order and interpret tests, and manage patient care, including prescribing medications and controlled substances. This autonomy is supported by national healthcare and nursing organizations.

Education for NPs in such states is typically comprehensive, preparing nurses for diverse practice environments across states with varying levels of practice authority. However, NPs must ensure that their training meets the practice regulations of the state where they plan to work.

Understanding state-specific NP practice laws is crucial for those pursuing an NP career, especially considering the differences in practice autonomy between states. For example, while Iowa and Minnesota offer full practice rights, other states may require NPs to maintain collaborative or supervisory agreements with physicians.

Currently, several states, including Iowa, grant NPs full practice rights, in contrast to states that require physician oversight. Prospective NPs should align their education with their career goals and the practice authority of the state where they plan to work.

Importance of Picking an Accredited NP Program

Choosing an accredited NP Program is crucial for several reasons:

  • Quality of Education: Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific educational standards set by a recognized accrediting body. This guarantees a level of quality in the curriculum, faculty qualifications, student resources, and clinical training opportunities.
  • Eligibility for Certification Exams: Graduation from an accredited NP Program is often a prerequisite for taking national certification exams. Without attending an accredited program, graduates may not be eligible to sit for these exams, which can significantly limit their career opportunities.
  • State Licensure Requirements: Most states require completion of an accredited NP Program for licensure. Attending a non-accredited program can prevent graduates from practicing in their chosen field, as they may not meet the state board of nursing's requirements for licensure.
  • Professional Credibility and Employment Opportunities: Employers often prefer or exclusively hire graduates from accredited programs. Accreditation signifies that the individual has received a high standard of education and is well-prepared for the demands of the profession. This can lead to better job prospects and career advancement opportunities.
  • Transfer of Credits: If a student decides to further their education, credits from an accredited program are more likely to be accepted by other accredited institutions.
  • Access to Federal Financial Aid: Only students in accredited programs are typically eligible for federal financial aid, including grants and loans. This is a crucial consideration for many students who rely on these funds to finance their education.

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

NP Programs Near Me

Discover NP programs in a state near you:


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is the role of preceptors in NP clinical training in Iowa?

Preceptors play a crucial role in NP clinical training in Iowa by providing mentorship, supervision, and practical learning opportunities to NP students during their clinical rotations. They are experienced nurse practitioners, physicians, or other healthcare professionals who guide students in applying theoretical knowledge to real-world clinical settings, enhancing their skills in patient care, decision-making, and professional practice.

Q: Can I pursue a post-graduate certificate in an NP specialty if I already have an MSN degree?

Nurses who already hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree can pursue post-graduate certificates in various NP specialties in Iowa. These certificate programs are designed for MSN-prepared nurses looking to expand their expertise into new areas of advanced practice nursing or to gain additional certifications in specialties such as family practice, psychiatric-mental health, or community health.

Q: What is the importance of informatics in NP programs?

Informatics is increasingly important in NP programs as it equips future nurse practitioners with the knowledge and skills to use information technology effectively in healthcare settings. This includes managing patient data, improving healthcare delivery through electronic health records, and utilizing technology to support evidence-based practice. Informatics competencies are essential for nurse leaders to make informed decisions and enhance patient care outcomes.

Q: How does the Iowa Board of Nursing impact NP programs and licensure?

The Iowa Board of Nursing plays a significant role in setting standards for NP education, approving NP programs within the state, and overseeing the licensure of graduates. The Board ensures that NP programs meet specific educational requirements and that graduates are competent to practice safely and effectively. It also administers licensure exams and sets regulations for practice, including scope of practice and continuing education requirements for maintaining licensure.

Q: What are the options for NP Program enrollment in Iowa, and how do they accommodate working nurses?

NP programs in Iowa offer various enrollment options, including full-time and part-time study paths, to accommodate the needs of working nurses. Full-time programs are designed for students who can dedicate themselves to their studies, while part-time programs offer flexibility for nurses to continue working while advancing their education. Many programs also offer online MSN and DNP courses, with on-campus requirements for certain practicum experiences or labs, allowing for a balance between work, life, and education.

Editorial Team / Admin

Erin Lee has 12 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, Procedural, Care Coordination, LNC.

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