Graduate Schools for Nurse Practitioners

Learn about how to become a nurse practitioner and how to choose a school that will meet your needs. Find out what specializations are available in the field and how certification works. Schools offering Family Nurse Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Graduate education can be an important tool for nurse practitioners looking to further develop their career. See what schools provide nurse practitioner programs, what they require and what you'll learn from them by reading this article.

Is Graduate School the Only Way I Can Become a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse. To become a nurse practitioner, you'll need to complete an accredited program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Graduation should qualify you to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This is the nationally accepted standard examination that qualifies you to practice as a registered nurse. It's also a prerequisite for admission to a graduate program leading to a Master of Science in Nursing as a Nurse Practitioner. To earn a post-master's certificate as a nurse practitioner, a Master of Science in Nursing from an accredited institution is necessary.

How Should I Choose a School?

You have a number of options open to you when choosing a school that offers accredited undergraduate nursing programs as well as graduate programs for nurse practitioners.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) presents an online database of accredited schools offering bachelor's degrees and master's degrees in nursing ( The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (CLNAC) also has a database of accredited schools offering 2- and 4-year nursing degrees, in addition to master's programs (

Additional sources for schools offering programs leading to post-master's certificates or master's degrees for nurse practitioners include the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) (, which offers a school database. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) offers a database of accredited schools, categorized by program, degree level and specialty ( These sites also offer lists of schools that have been approved for continuing education credits.

It should be noted that there are some online courses in programs leading to graduate degrees or certificates. The AANP offers a link to accredited schools offering programs with online components.

Most schools have a career center that can be of help when you're trying to locate a job. They can usually provide you with training in resume writing and interview skills. Other schools offer links to commercial career sites. The AANP provides a service called 'CareerLink' that can help you develop a website and professional profile. You'll also receive alerts regarding job opportunities or conferences.

Which Schools Have Master's Degree Programs For Nurse Practitioners?

Pursuing a master's degree is typically geared toward nurses seeking an advanced practice, administration or academic position. The following are a sampling of schools with master's degree prorgams:

  • Medical University of South Carolina has a Master of Science in Nursing- Nurse Practitioner degree program
  • Hampton University houses a Master of Science in Nursing Practitioner degree program
  • California State University Long Beach offers a Master of Science in Nursing with a Nurse Practitioner Concentration

Which Schools Have Post-Master's Certificate Programs For Nurse Practitioners?

Numerous colleges and universities have nurse practitioner post-master's certificate programs. The below schools are some of them:

  • Indiana State University offers a Post Master Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate program
  • University of Massachusetts hosts an online Post Master's Nurse Practitioner Certificate
  • University of Cincinnati has a Family Nurse Practitioner Post-Master's Certificate program available on campus, online, or in hybrid format

Can I Specialize?

There are a number of specialization areas available through nurse practitioner graduate programs. Among these are:

  • Family medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Emergency care
  • Geriatrics
  • Neonatal care
  • Women's healthcare
  • Oncology

Upon completion of your education program - which includes a minimum number of supervised clinical practice hours - you'll be eligible to sit for the specialty certification examination administered by a credentialing organization, like the AANP or the ANCC. Passing the examination will allow you to use the designation NP-C following your name.

Certification is renewable every five years by performing a certain number of clinical practice hours, taking continuing education courses or by sitting for a recertification examination.

As a student looking to further his or her career as a nurse practitioner, you have the option of earning a master's degree or post-master's certificate. Both will prepare you for certification exams and are offered by multiple schools in both traditional, online and hybrid formats.

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:

    Online Programs Available

  • Walden University

    Walden University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Walden University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Herzing University

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  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

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  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

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  • Northcentral University

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    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Vanderbilt University

    Campus Locations:

    • Tennessee: Nashville
  • University of Pennsylvania

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Michigan State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: East Lansing