10 Fastest Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs | 2024

Here are the 10 fastest nurse practitioner (NP) programs available in 2024, along with information on career outlook and salaries. Programs

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Are you seeking an accelerated nurse practitioner (NP) program to fast-track your advanced practice nursing career? Online master's and doctoral NP programs are usually offered through a blended learning model that allows you to complete the didactic courses online. You'll also complete in-person practicum hours at specific intervals within the program to obtain hands-on experience.

While there is much talk about the need for nurses, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates needing more than 100,000 new NPs between 2021 and 2031, making advancing your nursing career into a graduate nursing field an excellent decision.

However, deciding to become an NP is only half the battle. You have many decisions, such as choosing a specialization and a nursing school to achieve your dreams. To help you make an informed decision, we've rounded up the top 10 fastest higher education programs for NPs in the U.S.

But before we showcase the fastest NP programs, let's cover the basics of the profession and what you'll need before you can be accepted into a master's degree program.

What Is an NP?

NPs are advanced practice nursing professionals with specialized clinical competencies allowing them to practice in acute care, long-term care, and primary care settings. All NPs must first be registered nurses (RNs) and attend a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

NP Program graduates must take a national certification test to obtain their licensure. They also undergo periodic peer reviews, and their clinical outcomes are evaluated regularly to ensure they are safe and effective healthcare professionals. In addition, these clinicians use evidence-based practice decisions during their clinical practice to provide holistic patient care.

Much like RNs, NPs must obtain licensure in the state where they practice. They work in emergency rooms, urgent care centers, clinics, hospitals, and private practices. Everyday tasks NPs perform include:

  • Performing thorough physical health assessments
  • Ordering, performing, and interpreting X-rays, laboratory tests, and other diagnostic testing
  • Diagnosing and treating acute and chronic health conditions
  • Prescribing medications and other treatments
  • Educating patients on disease prevention, treatment, and self-care strategies

NP Coursework

The coursework for NP programs is rigorous and designed to build upon the foundational knowledge acquired as an RN. It includes advanced topics in nursing theory, research methodology, and clinical skills. Students learn about pharmacology, pathophysiology, and health assessment at a deeper level, which prepares them for the complexity of patient care they will encounter as NPs.

Building on this foundation, NP programs incorporate specialized coursework tailored to different practice areas. For example: 

NP Clinical Requirements

Clinical training is an essential component of NP education. It involves hands-on patient care experiences in various healthcare settings under the supervision of experienced practitioners. This training is critical for developing the competencies needed to perform the wide range of tasks expected of NPs, such as conducting thorough health assessments, interpreting diagnostic tests, and managing patient care holistically.Clinical training for NP students is tailored to their chosen concentration.

Effective 2022, the National Task Force on Quality Nurse Practitioner Education mandates a minimum of 750 direct patient care clinical hours, excluding simulations. Programs or specialties may impose additional clinical hour requirements, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs adhere to the CCNE standard of a minimum 1,000 clinical hours.

NP Prerequisites and Requirements

Becoming an NP isn't easy. NP programs are rigorous and packed with evidence-based curricula and at least 500 clinical hours with actual patients. However, knowing the steps before you start can make the process much easier. So, let's dive into the admission requirements and the steps you'll need to take to become a nurse practitioner.

Obtain Your BSN

You must first be a licensed RN with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree before applying to and being accepted into an NP school. If you have an ADN or other entry-level degree, you must enroll in and complete a bachelor's degree in a nursing program before advancing your nursing education. Alternatively, you can enter a bridge RN to MSN program that will offer an accelerated pathway to obtaining your BSN and MSN degrees.

Pass the NCLEX-RN

Holding a BSN alone may not be enough to begin enrolling in your chosen NP Program. Most nursing schools require you to take and pass the national board certification exam required for an RN license. Once you pass, you must also follow all the steps to become fully licensed in your state.

Many NP programs require at least two years of clinical nursing experience as a prerequisite. However, other programs allow you to go directly into the NP Program without clinical nursing experience.

Enroll in a Graduate Level Nursing Program

The most straightforward route from RN to NP is to attend an online master's program. Some colleges offer a DNP, the highest nursing education level you can complete. However, most of the time, master's programs are shorter compared to DNP programs.

The requirements for each NP Program are unique. So, thoroughly review the program requirements before beginning the application process. Below are some of the most common eligibility requirements for NP programs.

Evidence of a Strong Academic History

Being successful in NP programs begins with a solid base in nursing practice. Therefore, most online NP programs will require a minimum GPA for admission. The most common GPA requirement is that you carry a 3.0 or higher from all previous academic institutions.

Nursing Practice

You may be required to prove that you have at least two years or more of clinical experience as an RN. In addition, you'll likely need to show proof of employment or sign an affidavit stating that you meet this requirement for enrollment.

Research and Choose an NP School and Specialization

Finding the best college of nursing can be challenging. A few things to consider as you begin looking at NP programs include the following:

  • Pass rates on the state exam administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
  • Faculty-to-student ratios
  • Format of the program, such as in-person, online, and blended
  • Length of time it will take you to complete
  • Full-time and part-time options
  • Personal learning style and specific learning modalities used
  • Wrap-around support services offered to help you succeed
  • National versus regional accreditation
  • MSN versus DNP
  • Specialization, such as family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care, women's health, and others

Complete the Application Process

NP programs are rigorous, and the application process is too. Common steps you'll need to complete include:

  1. Take and pass all required entrance exams or prerequisite graduate-level coursework.
  2. Complete the physical application, which includes demographic and academic information.
  3. Write a meaningful and personal letter of intent describing why you want to become an NP
  4. Request and provide two or more letters of recommendation from others who know you as a person and a nursing professional. Choose colleagues or nursing leaders who can speak to your dedication, clinical excellence, moral and ethical practice, and personability.
  5. Complete an in-person or online video interview with one or more College of Nursing faculty and staff. Think of this as your first NP job interview. Dress professionally as you would for a job interview—research and practice the most common nurse practitioner school interview questions to be prepared.

NP Educational Pathways

In addition to choosing an NP concentration, prospective NPs have options for educational pathways. While we covered the most common admission requirements, these will vary based on the pathway you choose. Here is a breakdown of the most common NP educational pathways:

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN):

    • Audience: RNS with an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing looking to advance their clinical skills.
    • Duration: Typically 2-3 years.
    • Focus: Prepares graduates for advanced clinical roles in various healthcare settings. The program includes coursework and comprehensive clinical training.
    • Outcome: Graduates are eligible to sit for their respective NP certification exams depending on their chosen specialization.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP):

    • Audience: Experienced nurses or MSN holders aiming to reach the pinnacle of clinical practice or enter health policy or educational leadership.
    • Duration: Usually 3-4 years.
    • Focus: Focuses on clinical practice at a higher level, preparing NPs to integrate research into practice and manage complex patient care. DNP programs often include a significant capstone project that showcases clinical expertise.
    • Outcome: Prepares NPs for leadership roles in clinical settings, health policy, and education.
  • Post-Graduate Certificate:

    • Audience: Nurses who already hold an MSN or DNP but wish to switch specialties or gain additional expertise.
    • Duration: About 1 year.
    • Focus: Offers specialized training in a new area of practice, supplementing previous advanced nursing education.
    • Outcome: Equips nurses with additional expertise in their new specialty, preparing them for certification.
  • Direct Entry NP Program:

    • Audience: Individuals with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field.
    • Duration: Typically 3-5 years.
    • Focus: Provides an accelerated path into nursing for those without a nursing background, starting with foundational nursing courses before advancing to specialized NP training.
    • Outcome: Prepares graduates for initial licensure as RNs and subsequently for advanced practice roles as NPs.

These pathways are designed to provide the education and clinical experience needed to handle diverse patient care needs and to lead healthcare teams effectively. Choosing the right program depends on your current educational background, career goals, and the specific healthcare area you wish to specialize in.

Fastest NP Programs in 2024

The following schools are selected based on allnurse's methodology of surveying our readers to understand what they value most when selecting programs. We also consider factors like state testing pass rates, graduation rates, student-to-faculty ratios, cost, duration of the program, and admission rates.

1. Vanderbilt University

The MSN program at Vanderbilt University has much to offer. They have multiple entry options, making enrolling easy regardless of your previous higher education journey. In addition, this school has a robust program menu that includes many advanced nursing practice specialties. A few of the NP Concentrations you can choose from include:

  • Family nurse practitioner (FNP); 38-41 credit hours 
  • Adult-gerontology acute care or primary care nurse practitioner (AG-ACNP, AG-PCNP); 40 credit hours
  • Emergency nurse practitioner; 51 credit hours
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP); 41 credit hours 
  • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner; 40 credit hours 
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary and Acute Care; 40 credit hours

This school boasts a graduation rate of 92% and a 2020 employment rate of just over 96%. And in 2021, 4.4 out of 5 students surveyed felt prepared to practice the art of being an NP. This program prepares you well and helps you achieve your goals quickly in just 12 months.

  • 2024 Graduate Tuition Rate: $1,939 per credit hour
  • Accreditation:  Commission on Collegiate Nursing (CCNE) 
  • NP Pathway Options: 
    • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
    • Master in Nursing (MN - for non-nurses with a bachelor's degree in another field)
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    • Post-Masters Certificate 

Credit hours listed above are for the BSN to MSN pathway. 

2. University of Pennsylvania

If you're looking for a fast MSN NP Program in Pennsylvania, UPENN in Philadelphia has you covered. The university offers various NP tracks in acute or primary care, with the fastest being their Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP), which takes only 12-course units (CUs) and 12 months to complete at a full-time pace. 

Their other MSN NP Program options are among some of the fastest NP programs as well:

  1. 14-month NP Programs at UPENN: 
    • MSN Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
    • MSN Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
  2. 15-month NP Programs at UPENN:
    • MSN Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPC-NP)
    • MSN Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGAC-NP)
  3. 16-month NP Program at UPENN: 
    • MSN Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) 
    • MSN Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner 
      • Can be completed in 12 months depending upon the subspecialty chosen -- Acute/Chronic, Critical Care, or Oncology.
  • 2024 Annual Tuition: Based on a full-time study plan
    • 12  month (12 CU program): $84,552 
    • 14 month (13-14 CU program) $98,644 
    • 18 month (16-17 CU program): $125,827
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

3. Anderson University

Are you looking for an MSN Program in South Carolina? Anderson University offers both an FNP and a PMHNP program to help you achieve your goals in just 15 months. These hybrid nurse practitioner programs require 48-49 credit hours to complete, and the programs start date is in August, so make sure to get your application in by March 15th. 

  • 2024 Graduate Tuition Rate: $755.00 per credit 
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing (CCNE)

The FNP hybrid program covers subjects like advanced pathophysiology, advanced physical assessment, and advanced pharmacology. You'll also learn how to deliver primary care across the lifespan so you can work with pediatric to older adult patients. In addition, you'll attend multiple in-person practicum hours in different specialties to ensure you have a broad understanding of care with various patient populations.

The PMHNP hybrid program prepares future mental health nurse practitioners to excel in the challenging field of mental health, combining professional and spiritual preparation. With practicing nurses as professors, it emphasizes a holistic approach to patient care and covers key subjects like mental health processes, psychopharmacological therapies, aging adult care, and symptom analysis through body language.

4. Union University

Union University in Memphis, Tennessee, offers two MSN NP -- FNP and PMHNP -- tracks that will have you graduating in just 16 months. Both programs will require 46 credit hours and 560 clinical hours to graduate. 

You'll get the best of both worlds in these blended programs, where you can complete the didactic portion of the NP Program online but still attend hands-on training in-person at one of the Jackson, Hendersonville, or Germantown campuses.

The NP Programs only admit students in the fall each year. So, you'll need to apply as early as October of the year before to take advantage of priority admittance. 

  • 2024 Graduate Tuition Rate: 685 per credit hour. Financial aid plans are available.
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing (CCNE). 

5. University of Nevada

The Orvis School of Nursing at the University of Nevado, Reno, offers five MSN advanced practice NP programs. You can choose from family nurse practitioner (FNP), adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (AG-ACNP), adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AG-PCNP), pediatric acute care nurse practitioner (PACNP), or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). Each program offers concentrations in different specialty areas, so you graduate as a competent practitioner.

The FNP programs move you quickly toward graduation after just five semesters (approximately 18 months) with a total of 46-48 credit hours. In addition, you'll complete a capstone project along with your didactic and practicum hours. Depending on your NP concentration, a couple of the NP specialty programs can take up to 3 years, totaling up to 50 credits. 

The University of Nevada Orvis School of Nursing also offers various other pathways for nurses or APRNs at different levels of education, including BSN to DNP, MSN to DNP, or post-graduate certificate pathways. 

  • 2024 Graduate Tuition Rate: $344.25 per credit hour (residents), $378.75 per credit (non-resident)
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing (CCNE)

6. Herzing University

Herzing University in Wisconsin provides a range of CCNE-accredited nurse practitioner programs, with some offering completion in as little as 16 months, such as the FNP, while the majority of specialties require 20 months to complete. They offer a flexible online learning environment with multiple start dates and assist in arranging clinical rotations. 

The programs also offer mentorship from doctoral-prepared nursing faculty, extensive clinical practicum experience, and exam preparation for the national licensure exam. 

  • 2024 Graduate Tuition Rate: $695 per credit hour
  • Accreditation:  Commission on Collegiate Nursing (CCNE) 
  • NP Concentration Options: 
    • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP
    • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP
    • Family NP
    • Pediatric NP
    • Psychiatric-Mental Health NP
  • NP Pathway Options: 
    • BSN - MSN 
    • Accelerated RN - MSN
    • Post Graduate Certificate

For the BSN to MSN pathway, all the NP Program concentrations require 48 credit hours to complete. 

7. South College

South College offers several NP tracks, such as the BSN-MSN, RN-MSN, or the post-graduate certificate track, so you can easily bridge from one degree to another. The NP programs range from 18 to 36 months, with FNP being the shortest induration. These programs will provide a solid foundation through a blended approach to allow you to continue working while in school.

All coursework is completed online. However, you may need to go to campus but have many options, such as those in Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. The NP programs at South College are rooted in advanced research methods and evidence-based practice, so you'll graduate with a solid understanding of acute and chronic NP care. 

  • 2024 Graduate Tuition Rate: $5,500 per 8-20 credit hour quarter or $2,100 per 1-3.5 credit hour per quarter. 
  • Accreditation:  Commission on Collegiate Nursing (CCNE) 
  • NP Concentration Options: 
    • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
    • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
    • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)

8. Saint Thomas University

Saint Thomas University in Florida offers highly flexible and comprehensive online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs designed to support various nursing career paths. These programs are ideal for working professionals, providing an online platform that enables students to balance their studies with personal and professional commitments. The curriculum, developed by experienced faculty, ensures students acquire advanced clinical skills and theoretical knowledge essential for success in healthcare. With multiple entry points, these programs are accessible to nurses at different stages of their educational journey.

  • 2024 Graduate Tuition Rate:
    • MSN FNP: $28,770 total tuition cost. 
    • MSN PMHNP: $30,600 total tuition cost
  • Accreditation:  Commission on Collegiate Nursing (CCNE) 
  • NP Specialty Concentrations:
    • FNP: 47 credit hours 
    • PMHNP: 50 credit hours
  • NP Pathway Options & Duration: 
    • Post-Masters Certificate Track: 10-14 Months
    • BSN to MSN Track: 18 months
    • RN to MSN Track: 30 months
    • RN to BSN to MSN Track: 36 months

9. Mount Carmel University

Are you looking for an online MSN FNP, PMHNP, or AGACNP program with scheduled immersions in Ohio? Mount Carmel University has two campuses to provide greater flexibility. You'll complete all didactic coursework online and then travel to the school or clinical sites for application days, where you get to practice your new skills. 

These NP Program concentrations offer start dates in the fall and Spring each year and can be completed in just five semesters over 18 months. The college boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, a 97% first-time pass rate, and a 100% overall pass rate, so you can rest assured that you'll successfully receive personalized training from qualified instructors. 

Mount Carmel University also provides post-graduate certificate tracks that can be completed in as little as 3-4 semesters for nurses who already have their MSN and want to specialize in a different concentration. 

  • 2024 Graduate Tuition Rate: $850 per credit hour
  • Accreditation:  Commission on Collegiate Nursing (CCNE) 

10. Youngstown State University

Youngstown State University in Ohio offers MSN programs for advanced nursing practice. The MSN Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and MSN Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) programs can be completed in 18-20 months, catering to working nurses with a robust online curriculum and essential supervised clinical practicums.

Students in the FNP and AGACNP tracks gain practical experience through 600 hours of clinical practice in various primary care settings. This hands-on training is crucial for developing the skills needed for high-quality patient care. The programs are designed by experienced faculty who foster a supportive and challenging learning environment.

Balancing theoretical knowledge with practical application, these programs are ideal for nurses seeking career advancement. Youngstown State University's MSN programs provide the flexibility and training needed to excel in advanced nursing roles.

  • 2024 Graduate Tuition Rate: 
    • $527 per credit hour or an estimated total tuition of $24,242 (OH residents) 
    • $532 per credit hour or an estimated total tuition of $24,472 (non-residents)
  • Accreditation:  Commission on Collegiate Nursing (CCNE) 

NP Salary Expectations in 2024

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for NPs is just over $128,490, or about $61,78 per hour. The job growth for NPs is around 40%, which is much higher than the average job growth for other jobs.

Top-paying states for NPs are:

  • California: $161,540.00
  • Nevada: $148,670.00
  • Washington: $145,400.00
  • New Jersey: $145,030.00
  • Oregon: $144,950.00

It's important to note that the BLS data does not differentiate between NPs with an MSN or DNP. So, the above information is for all advanced practice nurses and may not correlate well to the specific degree and profession of your choice. However, it provides reliable data for determining your projected earnings.

ZipRecruiter further breaks down NP salaries by specialty, with salary ranges as follows: 

Compare NP Salary by State

Compare several specializations with our comprehensive nursing salary guide.

Are the Fastest NP Programs Worth It?

The fastest NP programs are designed for dedicated individuals looking to accelerate their education and career advancement. However, the intensity and pace of these programs require a strong commitment and can impact the learning experience. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons to consider.

Pros of the Fastest NP Programs

  1. Shorter Duration: Fast-track programs are ideal for students eager to complete their education and start practicing sooner, reducing the time to transition into the workforce.
  2. Cost-Effective: Completing your degree in less time can significantly reduce the overall cost of tuition and associated expenses, making it a financially attractive option.
  3. Intensive Learning: These programs offer an immersive learning experience, allowing students to dive deep into their studies without the long breaks that traditional programs might have.
  4. Career Advancement: For working nurses, fast-track programs provide an opportunity to quickly advance their careers, potentially leading to higher salaries and leadership positions sooner.
  5. Efficiency: Fast-track programs are designed for efficiency, focusing on the essential skills and knowledge needed to succeed as an NP without unnecessary coursework.

Cons of the Fastest NP Programs

  1. High Pressure: The accelerated pace can be intense and stressful, with a heavy workload that leaves little room for other commitments or work-life balance.
  2. Limited Clinical Experience: While these programs meet the minimum requirements for clinical hours, the condensed schedule may offer less time to absorb and apply clinical skills compared to traditional programs.
  3. Adaptability: The fast pace might not suit all learning styles, potentially impacting the depth of understanding and ability to apply knowledge in clinical settings.
  4. Networking Opportunities: The quicker timeline may limit opportunities for building professional relationships and networking with peers and faculty, which can be invaluable throughout one's career.
  5. Burnout Risk: The intensity and demands of fast-track programs can lead to burnout, affecting both academic performance and personal well-being.

Ultimately, deciding whether the fastest NP programs are worth it depends on your circumstances and career goals. If a fast-track education is suited to your needs, then they certainly are. However, if you are looking for a slower-paced traditional program, consider checking out our 30 Best NP Programs, broken down by specialty just for you.

NP State Scope of Practice & Certification

For Nurse Practitioners, understanding state-specific regulations is essential because they dictate practice authority. States vary in their allowance for NPs, ranging from full independence to required supervision by a physician.

Selecting the right NP Program requires knowledge of these state-by-state rules, as some programs may not be recognized in every state. This understanding aligns your education with your career objectives and desired practice setting.

Consider the following:

  • State Licensure: NPs must be licensed in their practicing state. Relocating may necessitate a new license.
  • Practice Authority: Defined by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), practice authority varies:
    • Full: States like New York allow NPs to practice independently at the top of their scope.
    • Limited: States such as Ohio require a collaborative agreement with a healthcare provider.
    • Restricted: States like California require strict healthcare provider oversight.
  • Certification: In addition to state licensure, Nurse Practitioners must obtain specialty certification through reputable organizations, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the AANP, or another valid NP certification board certification, to practice.

Always review the requirements from the state's Board of Nursing where you intend to practice to ensure compliance with local regulations for FNPs.

Importance of NP School Accreditation 

Choosing an accredited Nurse Practitioner (NP) program offers key benefits:

  1. Education: Accreditation ensures top-notch education with a strong curriculum, qualified faculty, ample resources, and comprehensive clinical training.
  2. Clinical Hours: Guarantees a minimum of direct patient care clinical hours, providing crucial hands-on experience.
  3. Certification and Licensure: Graduating from an accredited program is often a prerequisite for essential advanced certifications and state licenses.
  4. Career Prospects: Employers prefer graduates from accredited programs, opening doors to enhanced career opportunities.
  5. Credit Transferability: Credits earned are widely accepted, easing progression to further education, whether pursuing a PhD or DNP.
  6. Credibility: Completing an accredited NP Program boosts professional credibility, signaling adherence to national standards for advanced nursing practice.
  7. Federal Financial Aid: Accreditation is vital for eligibility for federal financial aid, which is crucial for students seeking financial support.

Prospective NP students must verify accreditation from reputable bodies like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

NP Programs Near Me

Discover NP programs in a state near you:

FAQ and Additional Readings (FAQ)

Q: Where can I work as an FNP? 

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are typically prepared to work in outpatient family practice settings. However, FNPs have the option to further their education or pursue a dual degree to expand their practice settings. For example, they can enroll in Dual Certified Nurse Midwife/FNP programs, PMHNP/FNP programs, or Acute Care/FNP programs.

Additionally, to become an Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP), one must first complete an FNP program or enroll in programs that offer the subspecialty within the FNP program. This allows FNPs to work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, and other healthcare facilities.

Alternatively, FNPs can choose to start in the primary care setting and later obtain a post-graduate certificate to work in other practice settings. 

Q: What's the best NP specialty?

A: One NP specialty isn't better than another. When choosing a specialty, the most crucial factor to consider is what kind of APRN you want to be and what patient population you want to work with.

Q: Is getting an MSN or a DNP better when becoming an NP?

A: Understanding that one program isn't better than the other is crucial. Instead, you must consider your long-term career goals and select the degree and program that fits you best.

Q: What type of courses do NPs take?

A: NP students take courses that expand on subjects taken at the bachelor's degree level. You'll also take classes specific to the NP specialty chosen. A few classes you'll take include clinical pharmacology, anatomy and pathophysiology, statistical literacy, and health promotion and disease prevention.

Q: Can I pursue my MSN NP online?

A: Absolutely! It's important to note that with online NP programs, you'll still need to complete clinicals to acquire the necessary hands-on patient-focused skills required for becoming an APRN. The difference in online MSN programs is that you can take the non-clinical learning portions from anywhere. Different online NP programs will either have you find a preceptor near you, while others have a nationwide team to provide you with clinical support from anywhere.

Q: How long does it typically take to complete an NP Program?

A: The duration of an NP Program can vary depending on factors such as the specialty, your chosen educational pathway (MSN or DNP), and whether you are studying full-time or part-time. Typically, MSN NP programs take around 2-3 years to complete, while DNP NP programs can take 3-4 years. Part-time options may extend the duration. It's essential to check the specific program's curriculum and requirements for an accurate estimate of the timeline.

Workforce Development Columnist

Melissa Mills has 26 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Workforce Development, Education, Advancement.

126 Articles   373 Posts
Specializes in RN. Has 15 years experience.

This is great, I appreciate your great work

Edited by dianah
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4 Articles | 2,537 Posts

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC. Has 12 years experience.

I appreciate that this article is well-researched and presented. I do think that a better approach would be to ask which programs provide the BEST education, as opposed to which programs provide the FASTEST education. We all know that there is a lack in many of the NP programs out there and there are people graduating from programs that may not be adequately prepared due to the lack of rigor in their programs. I understand the desire to get it done quickly, but putting articles out with this focus really make us look like people out for a quick buck rather than looking to do what's best for our future patients. 

Specializes in Emergency Room.

I totally agree. NPs are bashed constantly for being subpar due to the education tracks and diploma mill schools. We can't expect to be regarded as competent healthcare providers if our education is viewed as "quick".


1 Post

Very incisive article!

Specializes in PACU. Has 37 years experience.

People need to be aware that family nurse practitioners, which is usually the fastest and cheapest route cannot work in a hospital setting. They are limited and their scope of practice. I work with so many FNP's at the bedside who are doing staff nurse positions because the market is completely saturated with FNP's.. just FYI

Specializes in EM. Has 31 years experience.
angel337 said:

I totally agree. NPs are bashed constantly for being subpar due to the education tracks and diploma mill schools. We can't expect to be regarded as competent healthcare providers if our education is viewed as "quick".

If NPs want similar respect to their physician counter part providers, I do not think stressing how fast an NP can be gotten is a good thing. At a minimum, physicians have a BS follow by 7 years of post bachelor's training. Further, those 7 years average 70+ hours study/work weeks. 


1,594 Posts

The hospital based NP's that have the most credibility with patients, hospital staff and medical staff (from what I can see) are the ones that are an integral part of a medical practice with a 'hand in glove' relationship with physicians like a surgical practice.