Advanced Nurse Practitioner Schooling and Education

A nurse practitioner is a type of advanced practice nurse who is required to have at least a graduate degree in a designated specialty area of nursing. Get information on certification options, and learn what the job growth predictions and salary expectations are for registered nurses. Schools offering Family Nurse Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

If you are a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree in nursing, you can advance your career by attending an accredited graduate degree program to become a primary care provider in your choice of a variety of medical specialties. Upon graduation, you can obtain professional certification through your choice of certification organizations.

Job Outlook (2016-2026) 36% increase (for all nurse practitioners)
Programs Nurse practitioner graduate-level programs require candidates to have bachelor's degree in nursing and be licensed as a registered nurse
Certification Professional certification is available in several medical specialties

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Nurse Practitioner?

As a nurse practitioner, you serve as the main provider of health care services to your patients. You will often specialize in working with a particular group of individuals, such as children or the elderly. Nurse practitioners work in what is considered to be an advanced practice specialty field of nursing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that in 2016 there were 155,500 nurse practitioners working in the country, and that this number is expected to grow 36 percent between 2016 and 2026 (www.bls.gov). Nurse practitioners made an annual median wage of $103,880 in 2017.

How Do I Get Started?

To practice as a nurse in the U.S., you must have a degree from an approved nursing program in order to take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN, to get your license. You should obtain either a diploma, an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree from an accredited nursing school. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program provides you with the most training, as well as the prerequisite credits needed to enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.

What Kind of Education Do I Need to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

If you want to get a job as a nurse practitioner, you will need to obtain at least a master's degree in the nurse practitioner specialty in which you want to work, if not a higher-level of graduate degree. Although you will generally study nursing as a single major at the graduate level, degree programs which train you specifically to become a nurse practitioner or to work in a specialized area of this field are common at the master's and doctorate levels.

Schools that offer these types of programs include:

  • Chamberlain University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • George Washington University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Duke University

What Will I Study?

Graduate level studies in nursing often include advanced coursework in health assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacology and nursing leadership. Some programs offer coursework online, though clinical experiences must be attended at healthcare locations. Other courses you can expect to take include:

  • Population health
  • Epidemiology
  • Healthcare policy
  • Nursing informatics
  • Primary care of the adult
  • Primary care of the child
  • Primary care of the elderly

How Can I Become Certified?

After you graduate, there are a number of certifications that you can earn from professional nursing organizations to prove that you are able to work as a nurse practitioner. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners offers designations in the profession, for example. Certifications are offered in sub-specialties, such as pediatrics, adult care, family care and geriatrics. You earn a certification by taking an examination. To sit for one of these examinations, must obtain your RN license and hold an accredited degree in the nurse practitioner specialty in which you want to become certified. You may also have to have some supervised experience as a nurse practitioner.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

    Herzing University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Herzing University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • The University of Texas at Arlington

    The University of Texas at Arlington responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The University of Texas at Arlington:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Mississippi College

    Mississippi College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Mississippi College:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Abilene Christian University

    Abilene Christian University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Abilene Christian University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Queens University of Charlotte

    Queens University of Charlotte responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Queens University of Charlotte:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • South College

    South College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at South College:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Asheville
  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

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