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Best Online Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Programs

Family nurse practitioner (FNP) programs can be completed primarily online through a variety of schools across the United States. Explore 25 of the best schools with online FNP programs, program requirements and financial aid.

Top Online FNP Programs

To determine the best online family nurse practitioner programs, students should consider cost, residency requirements, admission requirements, program length and flexibility. Students can choose from online certificate programs, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs (DNP). Twenty-five of the best schools that offer online FNP programs are listed below.

1. Maryville University of Saint Louis

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state, 2018-2019)
Saint Louis, MO $15,646

The online nursing programs at Maryville University of Saint Louis are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and the school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Required clinicals can be completed near students and vary in number based on students' previous education. Students can pursue one of the following online FNP options: standard MSN (47 credits), BSN to DNP (74 credits), post-master's FNP certificate (35 credits) or standard DNP (68 credit hours). Online nursing programs have a tuition rate of $813 per credit hour, regardless of student residency.

2. Cox College

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state, 2018-2019)
Springfield, MO $12,430

Cox College has a primarily online Master of Science in Nursing program (42 credits) and post-master's certificate program (21 credits) with family nurse practitioner concentrations. The MSN program can be completed in two years of full-time study while the certificate can be completed in as little as one year; MSN students are required to complete 600 clinical hours during their program. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and its nursing programs are accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing. All graduate students have a tuition rate of $600 or more per credit hour, whether living in state or out of state.

3. Texas A & M University-College Station

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state, 2018-2019)
College Station, TX $9,812

Texas A & M University-College Station is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and its nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The school offers an online MSN FNP program that has tuition rates of $738 (in-state) and $1,186 (out-of-state). Students are required to attend a few on-campus components, including a program orientation, and can complete clinical hours at sites near them. The program consists of 48 credit hours and takes two years of full-time study (five semesters) to complete.

4. Samford University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state, 2018-2019)
Birmingham, AL $17,865

Samford University offers Master of Science in Nursing programs as well as Doctor of Nursing Practice programs online with tuition rates of $862 per credit hour. The school is accredited by the SACSCOC, and its nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Students with a BSN can earn an MSN in family nurse practitioner (42 credits), family nurse practitioner with emergency specialty (54 credits) or family and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (59 credits). Students who have previously earned an MSN can pursue the online DNP with an FNP concentration which consists of 62 credit hours. Samford also offers an online RN to MSN program that bypasses a BSN and takes students with an associate's degree in nursing directly to a master's degree in nursing in less than three years (57 credits).

5. MCPHS University

Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state, 2018-2019)
Boston, MA $22,530

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, or MCPHS University, offers online FNP programs for a Master of Science in Nursing and a post-master's certificate, each with a per-credit tuition rate of $990. The school is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education and has programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The standard MSN program consists of 42 credit hours, and the RN to MSN program consists of 62 credit hours. Students who have previously earned an MSN can pursue a graduate certificate (28 credits) to further expand on their knowledge and prepare to lead as family nurse practitioners.

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state, 2018-2019)
6 Loyola University New Orleans New Orleans, LA $16,190
7 Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME $8,982
8 Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, GA $7,260
9 The University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX $6,170
10 Wheeling Jesuit University Wheeling, WV $9,710
11 DeSales University Center Valley, PA $20,160
12 Bradley University Peoria, IL $16,300
13 Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA $23,112
14 Simmons University Boston, MA $21,894
15 University of Central Missouri Warrensburg, MO $8,067
16 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ $10,593
17 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI $15,126
18 Winona State University Winona, MN $7,998
19 Misericordia University Dallas, PA $35,230
20 Regis University Denver, CO $13,177
21 Herzing University-Madison Madison, WI $11,590
22 Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, IL $11,980
23 Catholic University of America Washington, DC $46,800
24 Concordia University-Wisconsin Mequon, WI $10,848
25 Felician University Lodi, NJ $19,690

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions. All tuition data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Overview of Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs

Key components of online FNP programs are online courses and on-site clinical practice, the amount of which varies by specific program.

Program Options and Length

Online family nurse practitioner programs can lead to a master's degree, doctoral degree or post-master's certificate, and are open to students of various educational and career backgrounds. Family nurse practitioner programs that are commonly available online are discussed below in greater detail.

  • Accelerated MSN: These programs are typically available to students who have a non-nursing bachelor's degree (sometimes referred to as direct-entry). The length of these programs will vary based on students' previous coursework, but may be completed in as few as three years. These programs are less commonly offered online than other types of MSN programs.
  • MSN Bridge: Bridge programs are usually open to nurses who have a diploma or an associate's degree in nursing. They serve as a bridge to nursing graduate programs, typically MSN programs. Students can usually complete MSN bridge programs in less than one year of full-time study. These programs do not lead directly to a family nurse practitioner degree, but ready students for entry into their FNP programs.
  • RN-MSN-FNP: These programs are open to registered nurses who have an associate's degree in nursing or a nursing diploma. They can be completed in as little as three years of full-time study, and include both bridge courses and graduate courses. Some RN-MSN programs lead to both a BSN and an MSN degree, while other programs bypass the BSN component and lead directly to an MSN degree.
  • Post-Master's FNP Certificate: These programs are normally open to nurses who have already earned an MSN in a different concentration area. They enable students to expand their field of expertise and typically take one year or less of full-time study to complete.
  • DNP-FNP: DNP programs can be open to registered nurses with a BSN or those who have earned an MSN (post-MSN DNP). Nurses who have already earned an MSN can complete their DNP program in as few as three years while nurses with a BSN can finish their program in as few as four years.

Online Learning

Online FNP program courses are usually accessed through a third-party online learning portal. Students may use their portal for some or all course tasks, including exams, assignments, forums and lectures. At the beginning of their program, students may be required to complete an online tutorial that provides an overview of the learning portal. While most online courses offer asynchronous learning, some courses can require synchronous components, such as scheduled lectures and exams.

Practicum Requirements

All FNP programs include clinical practice requirements in order to prepare students for advanced practice nursing licensure and practice. Although the specific number of required hours varies based on program, student experience and previous degree, many programs include between 500 and 700 hours. These hours can often be completed near students, at locations that are agreed upon by both students and their program directors. Clinical practice hours include work in various healthcare settings, practicing the skills and learning objectives that are taught within the FNP program. Students not only are able to show their understanding of the program curriculum, but they're able to increase their skills through the hands-on learning opportunities.

Common Courses

There are two types of courses typically involved in MSN and DNP family nurse practitioner programs: core and specialty. Certificate FNP programs usually include only specialty courses. Several core and specialty courses found within FNP programs are listed below.

Core Courses

Core courses expand on the previous knowledge of nursing students in various healthcare and nursing topics, such as leadership and advanced patient care.

  • Advanced Pathophysiology - explores diseases and disease indicators, providing students with the skills to recognize warning signs in advanced nursing roles.
  • Advanced Pharmacology - provides an overview of commonly used pharmaceuticals as well as benefits, appropriate uses and limitations.
  • Advanced Health Assessment - reviews components and methods for providing advanced care health assessments, including physical, psychological and emotional characteristics.
  • Leadership in Nursing - students learn how to effectively communicate and lead in their roles, and how to improve the quality of patient care through proper leadership.
  • Evidence-Based Practice - teaches students how to professionally find and use data to create solutions to problems that exist within nursing and healthcare practice.
  • Healthcare Policy - provides students with a better understanding of various systems and policies relating to healthcare economics, practice and structure.

Specialty Courses

These courses focus on family nurse practitioner topics such as specific patient health characteristics and approaches to care for patients of all ages.

  • Pediatric Care - students learn more about development, health and illnesses that affect pediatric patients, and how to provide quality expert care.
  • Adult-Geriatric Care - explores implications and practices regarding care for adult and aging patients, as well as how to promote and maintain patient health.
  • Women's Health - provides a deeper look at women's care and health topics, including pregnancy, disease, health promotion and childbirth.

Cost of Online FNP Programs

The cost of online FNP programs vary significantly by school and program. Generally speaking, the longer a program is the more it will cost; however, because schools have different tuition rates this isn't always the case. Some schools offer flat-rate fees that include all or most program costs and are charged per credit hour or by semester, but most schools separate program costs into tuition and other fees. Typical costs associated with online FNP programs are discussed below.

Tuition

Tuition is the primary cost associated with online FNP programs. Each school's tuition will vary, but some schools have online graduate tuition rates of $600 to $1,000 per credit hour. The cost of tuition for a total program really depends on how many credit hours are required. If you're looking at a school that charges $700 per credit hour, for example, your total program tuition might be $14,000 for a certificate, $31,000 for a standard MSN or $50,000 for a DNP.

Other Costs

In addition to tuition, programs usually involve various other fees. These fees vary by school, but might include registration fees, technology fees, course fees and student services fees. Students will also have to maintain regular internet access and ensure they have a computer that meets the technical requirements of their online FNP program.

How to Get Financial Aid for Online FNP Programs

Students interested in an online FNP program should first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The FAFSA is free to use and shows students which types of aid they might qualify for. In addition, students can add their school choices on their FAFSA so that the schools are automatically notified about what aid types are available to students, saving time during the application and enrollment process.

Work-Study

Work-study programs are offered at many schools, and allow students to earn part or all of their program costs by working part-time while in school. Working nurses may also be able to participate in work-study programs through their employer as a job-advancement incentive.

Student Loans

Students can obtain loans through various sources, but the most common student loans available are those from the federal government. Federal loans are often based on income and have nationally set interest rates.

Loan Forgiveness

Depending on the careers pursued by graduates, they may qualify for loan forgiveness through the federal government or their employer. Federal loan forgiveness typically applies to individuals working in qualifying public service roles, and employer forgiveness (or repayment) is offered by many companies as sign-on and duration incentives.

Scholarships

Online FNP students can qualify for dozens of scholarships through their school and external sources. Scholarships are available to students based on varying criteria such as need, academic performance, student characteristics (like gender), location and program of study. Several scholarships that are applicable to online FNP students are listed below.

  • Hurst Reviews/AACN Nursing Scholarship - $2,500 is awarded twice per year to students in professional nursing programs.
  • Geraldine 'Polly' Bednash Scholarship - $5,000 is awarded to a total of 8 students over the course of each year who are enrolled in qualifying accredited nursing programs.
  • Nurses Educational Funds Scholarships - These scholarships award varying amounts to students who are enrolled in accredited programs with a qualifying GPA.
  • St Francis School of Nursing Alumni of Pittsburgh, PA Scholarship - Around $2,000 is awarded to a student with financial need who is enrolled in a nursing program.
  • Tylenol Future Care Scholarship - A total of $250,000 is awarded to 40 nursing students each year who show outstanding academic performance and a commitment to caring for patients.
  • AfterCollege/AACN Scholarship Fund - $2,500 is awarded to a nursing student, with preference given to those in RN to MSN, RN to BSN, accelerated or nurse educator programs.

Online FNP Program Accreditation

There are two types of accreditation that students should look for when choosing their online FNP program: institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation. Institutional accreditation applies to a school as a whole and can be provided by various regional and national organizations. Attending a school with institutional accreditation is necessary for students to qualify for financial aid.

Programmatic accreditation applies specifically to programs, articulating that those programs meet nationally set quality criteria. Online FNP programs can be accredited by the Commission on the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Not only does programmatic accreditation mean that students are receiving a recognized quality education, it may also be required for licensure and practice.

Certification Requirements for Family Nurse Practitioners

In order to become a licensed family nurse practitioner, individuals first need to hold a valid RN license. After completing an accredited family nurse practitioner graduate program, graduates will need to take and pass the ANCC Family Nurse Practitioner exam. There is a fee for the exam, and the certification awarded is valid for five years. To renew certification, nurses need to complete at least 75 continuing education hours along with at least one of several other requirements. These requirements can include college credits, preceptor hours, research and publication or clinical practice hours.

Career Options for Online FNP Graduates

FNP programs prepare students for careers as family nurse practitioners, and some FNP graduates also pursue careers in academics and administration. Below, all salary and income data is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nurse Practitioner

There are different types of nurse practitioners; some work specifically with pediatrics, while others work with adults or families. Typically, FNP graduates work as family nurse practitioners, but with proper experience and certification they can also pursue other nurse practitioner positions. Nurse practitioners usually need to pass an advanced practice nursing exam as well as an exam for their specialty (such as family nurse practitioner). Their duties can include primary and collaborative care for patients of various ages, providing more advanced services than those of registered nurses (RNs). In 2018 all nurse practitioners had a median salary of $107,030, and the field is expected to grow 28% between 2018 and 2028.

Postsecondary Nursing Teachers

In 2018, the annual median salary for postsecondary nursing teachers was $73,490. FNP graduates with a master's degree can often teach nursing courses at the community college level, while those with a DNP can teach at colleges and universities. The duties of postsecondary teachers can include creating course learning objectives, delivering lectures, coaching students and conducting research. Postsecondary nursing teacher positions are expected to grow 20% from 2018 to 2028.

Medical and Health Services Managers

Medical and health services managers direct and oversee healthcare services, practices, departments or groups. They typically have experience in healthcare, and many employers prefer those with a master's degree. Their duties vary based on their specific roles, but can include managing finances and schedules, hiring employees, maintaining records and communicating with other department heads. These managers work to ensure that objectives are met, including maintaining and improving the quality of healthcare services. Their median annual salary in 2018 was $99,730, and they are expected to see an 18% job growth from 2018 to 2028.

Professional Organizations for Online FNP Graduates

Advanced practice registered nurses have several professional organizations to choose from, some of which are discussed below.

American Nurses Association

ANA offers networking and professional development to its members and has four million registered nurses as allies. Membership is available for nurses and students and includes benefits such as advocacy, state nursing association collaboration, discounts and publications.

American Association of Nurse Practitioners

AANP provides members with benefits that include continuing education, journal subscriptions, discounts, networking and advocacy. AANP has over 104,000 members and offers membership to students, active and retired nurse practitioners and non-nurses (associates).

American Association for the History of Nursing

AAHN offers different memberships to anyone interested in understanding the history of nursing to better maintain and improve nursing for the future. Benefits of AAHN membership include publications, annual meetings, networking and access to the membership directory.