The 4 Best Online Nurse Practitioner Programs


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A nurse practitioner, or NP, is a type of advanced practice registered nurse qualified to diagnose medical problems and devise and implement treatment plans. The best online nurse practitioner programs prepare students with the knowledge and skills to take and pass a state-level NP certification exam. In many states, certified nurse practitioners are qualified to act as primary health care providers within a particular area of expertise, although some states require nurse practitioners to work in collaboration with a physician.

Most online nurse practitioner programs culminate in a Master of Science in Nursing degree. In an online NP program, you take courses in leadership and administrative skills in addition to advanced nursing practice courses in a specialty area. Popular NP specialties include family health, adult-gerontology, pediatrics, neonatal care, and acute care, among other areas. Of the many recognized NP specialties, only a handful are commonly available in an online format. If you’re looking to pursue an NP program online, you can find a full variety of quality options among the programs listed below. All four of the schools in this list rank among the top-10 online graduate nursing program providers in the country, according to a 2013 study by U.S. News & World Report

Clarkson College offers two excellent NP programs that focus on family care and adult-gerontology primary care. Both of these programs require you to visit the Clarkson College campus in Omaha, Nebraska, several times to complete training requirements associated with clinical practice courses. You must fulfill additional clinical practice requirements by planning, organizing, and completing a practicum program in an approved medical facility in your home area. This kind of training is generally required of all NP students regardless of program or specialty area. Both of the Clarkson College online NP programs can be completed in 30 months if you take courses full time. Part-time students are allowed up to five years to complete the program.

If you’re looking to become a neonatal nurse practitioner, East Carolina University (ECU) is your best online option. Although this program does not require any campus visits, you must be able arrange a practicum in your area that meets all program requirements. ECU also offers NP programs in family care and adult-gerontology primary care. However, travel requirements for these specialties are significantly greater than similar programs at other universities: To complete one of these specialties, you must visit campus for training in Greenville, North Carolina, nine times and fulfill all practicum requirements in a medical facility located in North Carolina. All three ECU nurse practitioner programs offer two curriculum options to choose from, including a two-year full-time option and a three-year part-time options. Modifying either of these predetermined schedules requires approval from a graduate adviser.

Graceland University-Independence is home to a family nurse practitioner program that prepares students to provide individual and family care in clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare settings. This program requires two visits to the Graceland campus in Independence, Missouri, including an initial orientation session and a second session that coincides with an advanced practice laboratory course. Students are free to take between one and three courses per semester, but must complete the program within five years. Full-time students can complete the program in 30 months.

Duquesne University is another solid alternative for students interested in becoming a family nurse practitioner. The course curriculum, which is similar in content to the other top programs, is designed to be completed in three to five years depending on your scheduling needs. After enrolling in the Duquesne online NP program, you are assigned a faculty mentor who assists and supports you through the full length of the program. You must travel to the Duquesne University campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for two one-week training sessions in the month of November in both the second and third year of the program. Students who miss a session must wait one full year for another opportunity to fulfill this requirement.