Top 25 Online RN to FNP Programs 2019

The most common nurse practitioner specialization, Family Nurse Practitioners are also a crucial part of the American healthcare system. In the 21st century, with skyrocketing healthcare costs and a shortage of doctors in many regions of the nation (especially in rural areas, struggling exurbs, and low-income inner cities), FNPs are often the only medical professionals available who can prescribe drugs, treat chronic and serious illnesses, and be available for patients of all ages, from infancy to elderly. Family Nurse Practitioners are increasingly the first line of medicine, and that makes the current situation – in which there are far fewer certified FNPs than the job market demands – both concerning for public, and very encouraging for prospective FNPs. In recent years, FNP has become one of the best career options for nurses.

What Do Great Family Nurse Practitioner Programs Look Like?

Family Nurse Practitioner Programs have become very common in recent years, due to nursing schools and colleges all over the US working to respond to the need for credentialed nurse practitioners. To enter a Family Nurse Practitioner program, though, students usually need to be a licensed RN and have at least an associate’s degree in nursing – which means current, working professionals who can’t afford to leave their jobs to become full-time students. That means that affordable online FNP programs are becoming extremely common as well. With an emphasis on convenience, flexibility, and speed, the top online FNP programs in the nation are coming from some of the most prestigious nursing schools, anywhere, top-tier institutions that have often been the pioneers in nursing research and education.

Family Nurse Practitioner programs come in many different formats, with many different pathways for reaching the ultimate goal – the credit hours and clinical hours necessary to sit for one of the two national FNP certification exams. Many programs are hybrid in nature, usually combining online coursework with short residencies on-campus (maybe as little as a weekend, but rarely more than a week). Some Family Nurse Practitioner programs require no residencies at all. Some programs start with an RN to BSN program before moving on to the MSN. Of course, all FNP programs require clinical hours (they are a necessity to qualify for the AANP or ANCC exams); fortunately, the top online FNP programs will generally allow students to set up their own clinical experiences somewhere near home, sometimes even in their own current workplaces. These are the innovations necessary to ensure that we have enough Family Nurse Practitioner programs to cover our national healthcare needs.

Ranking the Top Online FNP Programs

TopRN has ranked the very best online Family Nurse Practitioner programs based on crucial qualifications. Obviously, as a baseline, all programs must be regionally accredited, but most of the programs in the Top Online FNP Programs ranking are also accredited by the CCNE or the ACEN. In addition to these requirements, programs are ranked according to three characteristics:

  • Cost (current IPEDS data)
  • Reputation (current Niche score)
  • ROI (current College Scorecard alumni salaries)

With these standards, TopRN profiles the Family Nurse Practitioner programs that are most likely to give graduates a strong showing on the job market, earn them advancement in their careers, and show a real return on the investment of their time and money.

1. Vanderbilt University

One of the most prestigious private research universities in the nation, Vanderbilt University is rated as a Public Ivy and has been ranked the top college in Tennessee by the College Consensus. Located in Nashville, TN, the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing has a history dating back to 1908. VU’s School of Nursing is one of the nation’s oldest and most progressive; from the very beginning, Vanderbilt was a leader in moving nursing education from hospital and clinical study into the higher education landscape it resides in today. The Vanderbilt Nursing School offered their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree for the first time in 1955; however, it wasn’t until 1975 a student could pursue the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) specialty.

Vanderbilt’s MSN FNP specialization was cutting-edge when it was first offered, along with other progressive advanced nursing focuses such as Psychiatric-Mental Health and Nurse-Midwifery. VUSN’s FNP specialty is ranked #5 in the 2019 U.S. News and World Report rankings. One of the best Family Nurse Practitioner programs in the US is available in a modified distance learning format which allows students the ability to continue to work while pursuing an advanced degree. A portion of lectures will be taken online; however, some on-campus visits will be required throughout the program. Fortunately, the 630 required clinical practicum experience hours can be arranged in your home area. VUSN’s FNP program is especially unique in that you do NOT need to be a nurse to enter the specialty. You can apply as an ASN, BSN, MSN or if you have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field other than nursing. Requirements will vary depending on applicants current educational level.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

2. The Ohio State University

With over 100 years of nursing history, the Ohio State University College of Nursing actually started out as a homeopathic hospital training program for nursing. While not the first school of nursing in an academic setting, OSU can boast to have been the first school in the state of Ohio to offer an MS in Nursing back way in 1955. They were also the first public institution in Ohio to to offer a PhD in the field of Nursing. OSU’s College of Nursing is a member of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The college has a strong emphasis towards evidence-based practice and person-centered advanced nursing. The master’s program integrates that practice within both their clinical and classroom education, including a top online FNP program.

The OSU Family Nurse Practitioner track is just one of eleven MSN degree specialties offered at the College of Nursing. The College of Nursing MSN/FNP track is nationally ranked and meets the curriculum guidelines of the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) as well as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) FNP Certification criteria. The Master of Science Nursing (MSN) at OSU’s College of Nursing can be obtained via Distance Learning, providing flexibility for currently working RNs or those with relocation barriers. Students in the Traditional MS option (for those already holding a BSN or an RN with another bachelor’s degree) have the opportunity to take all courses online and complete their clinicals near their own community. The Graduate Entry track allows students with a non-nursing bachelor’s to enter the program. Graduates of OSU’s MSN program will be eligible to sit for certifications in their specialties. They will be fully equipped to work in clinical settings, hospitals, private practices or government agencies. With varied coursework and acquired skills, graduates will be prepared for working with patients throughout the lifespan, and within all primary care situations.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

3. Clarkson College

Located in Omaha, NE, Clarkson College is a private, non-profit institution accredited by the North Center Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). Clarkson College actually started as a School of Nursing, the first of its kind in the state of Nebraska back, in 1888. Over the 20th century, Clarkson expanded beyond only nursing, adding a wide variety programs in the health sciences like medical imaging, healthcare business, physical therapy, and other professional development and continuing education options for healthcare workers. But nursing remains at Clarkson’s heart, making Clarkson one of Nebraska’s best colleges for nursing degrees at all levels, all the way up to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). All of Clarkson’s nursing degrees are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Nebraska State Board of Nursing.

The Clarkson College MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program is intended for nurses holding an Associate’s degree in Nursing (or ADN). This is a two-step program, meaning that students begin with the RN to BSN requirements, and upon completing their BSN courses, move from the BSN to MSN coursework. A research-based project finalizes the degree plan in the last semester. Ideal for working nurses, the entire program can be accomplished online, requiring just four campus visits over the course of the program. The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) specialty will require an additional 26 semester hours of study and prepares students with all they need to sit for the national FNP certification exam.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

4. University of Mississippi Medical Center

The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) is Mississippi’s primary leader in healthcare, as it produces the most health professionals in the state, consolidating UM’s health programs into one location in 1955. Founded in 1948 on the original UM Oxford campus, the School of Nursing is the first in the state of Mississippi to offer both bachelor’s and master’s nursing programs. The UMMC campus is home to four hospitals, each with specializations – Critical Care, Women and Infants, Adult, and the only designated Children’s Hospital in the state of Mississippi. Because of the access that the UMMC provides, nursing students have the opportunity to train and gain experience in any of these populations, a major benefit for students considering the Family Nurse Practitioner path.

The UMMC RN-MSN program offers six online options, including the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), affording students with current work responsibilities or location limits a flexible means to advancing their careers. This program is Intended for those currently holding an Associate’s Degree RN. The FNP track within the MSN degree entails 630-hours of clinicals under a mentorship arranged by the university. While most coursework may be completed via distance learning, the university requires these hours to be completed in the state of Mississippi. Upon program completion, graduates will be able to take the ANCC or AANP national exams as well as be eligible for a state advanced practice license as a Nurse Practitioner. Incidentally, current graduates of the MSN/FNP program boast a 100 percent pass rate on these national certification exams, making UMMC a top online FNP program.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

5. Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi: College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Most hear Texas A&M (TAMU) and think of the big college town of College Station, where the state flagship university resides and where a little sport called football is fairly popular. However, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, one of 11 campuses within the Texas A&M University System, is an emerging research university located on the Gulf Coast, steadily earning national attention in the fields of science and engineering. TAMU-CC is also known for its College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which offers TAMU-Corpus Christi RN-MSN program. RN-MSN program is for those with an AD in Nursing and have obtained an RN. For those without the RN, a RN-Bridge will need to be taken before entering the MSN program.

The TAMU Corpus Christi Family Nurse Practitioner program is a 49 credit hour MSN specialty degree, and upon completion will prepare RNs to be Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). After graduation of the FNP track, nurses are eligible to sit for the National Certification Exam. The FNP degree at Texas A&M Corpus Christi is offered fully online and designed for part-time study, allowing students to continue full-time employment. Just like most of the MSN/FNP tracks at other colleges, this degree will require 630 clinical hours and about 3 years to finish. The nursing school supports students requesting to do clinicals in their home states, and while it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to arrange and select preceptors for their clinical experiences, there are program coordinators available to assist with more information and guidance.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

6. Grand Canyon University

One of the most recognizable names in online education, Grand Canyon University has been through some surprising ups and downs since being founded as a Christian college in 1949. GCU became the first for-profit Christian college in the world in 2004, when financial troubles forced the board of trustees to sell the university, but in 2018, Grand Canyon was approved to return to non-profit status by the accredited agency. Grand Canyon is particularly known for its nursing programs, offered by GCU’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions which have often been ranked among the top online nursing degrees in the nation. In fact, GCU’s first-time NCLEX passage rate for graduates is well above Arizona’s average, reaching as high as 95% in 2017.

GCU’s RN to MSN online bridge program lays out all the foundations of professional nursing within the 18-credit bridge sequence: caring for a variety of populations, interpreting current research/statistics and conducting health assessments. Upon completion, students will move directly into the Master of Science in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner program. The MSN/FNP is designed to meet all all the standards set by the AACN, IPEC and ANA. With GCU’s comprehensive curriculum, graduates will be completely prepared for advanced practice as primary care providers and able to serve patients across the lifespan. While primarily a distance-learning format, the MSN includes two on-campus experiences to develop hands-on skills, participate with peers and faculty and prepare for the national certifications.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

7. Duquesne University

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Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit is known as the only Spiritan college in the world, affiliated with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, a Catholic order of priests and lay members. Founded to provide educational opportunity for Pittsburgh’s Catholic young people, Duquesne was the first Catholic university in Pennsylvania, reaching university level in 1911. Duquesne is recognized as a top-tier national university, and is particularly known for their healthcare and nursing programs; in fact, Duquesne was the first university in the US to offer a completely online PhD in nursing. Duquesne U incorporates the Synergy Model within their nursing programs. This model was developed by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, with the idea that students study and evaluate the interrelationship between their own job performance and the patient outcomes they achieve.

Duquesne’s online RN to MSN pathway works along a 2-step process for Associate Degree (ADN) holders to earn the MSN/FNP. First, students will need to complete the online RN to BSN degree. This RN to BSN program does require applicants to have an RN license, which automatically counts toward 60 of the required 120 credits. Any students who hold an RN license and have earned a bachelor’s degree in any other field, will need to complete the required RN-BSN courses (30 credit hours) to earn the BSN. DU recognizes nursing students all have unique educational backgrounds; because of this, their program curriculum plan is customized to the student’s specific situation. Three MSN specializations are offered online, including the Family Nurse Practitioner. Duquense’s MSN graduates have a demonstrated 93% pass rate on the AANP FNP certification exam, making them a top online FNP program.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

8. Bradley University

A private, mid-sized university in Peoria, IL, Bradley University was founded in 1897 by philanthropist Lydia Moss Bradley with the estate left to her by her late husband. While Bradley at first intended to open an orphanage in memory of their six children, all of whom died in childhood, she instead decided that a college founded on practical skills would be more important. Quite uniquely, Bradley University began with the purchase of a watch-making school, which quickly expanded to include liberal arts and industrial technology programs. Today, Bradley is known for its market-ready programs in areas ranging from business to healthcare, and is ranked one of the top colleges in Illinois by College Consensus.

Bradley’s online MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner program is designed for students with a current RN and an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. This 67 credit program is made up of 9 semesters and 5 supervised clinical practicums. In keeping with Bradley’s focus on useful education, one unique feature of Bradley’s method is a holistic instructional outlook on their graduate programs; like other programs, Bradley focuses on specific clinical skills, but couples them with an equal focus on the current state of health care in the US and globally. Students are encouraged to explore and dissect ethical and legal factors affecting the delivery of health care practice such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They learn about emerging fields of Health informatics and how to manage data-based processes within their practices. By staying up on the trends of information technology within the healthcare market, Bradley graduates will be an asset both to the their future employers, as well as to their patients by facilitating better outcomes all around.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

9. George Washington University

George Washington University has been one of the foremost institutions in the Washington, DC, area since it was founded by an act of Congress in 1821. Regularly ranked among the top colleges in the nation, GWU is known as a health leader, with one of the oldest medical schools in the US and a top-ranked School of Nursing, located aton GWU’s Virginia Science & Technology Campus in Ashburn, Virginia. One of the top healthcare educators in the nation, GWU maintains partnerships with a number of domestic and international higher education institutions and healthcare organizations. GW Nursing students have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to join medical teams that provide care and public health education in a number of locations, including the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing, National University of Singapore, the Children’s National Medical Center, and the Commonwealth of Virginia Community College System.

Current nurses with an Associate Degree of Nursing or Associate of Science in Nursing can take advantage of George Washington University’s online RN-to-MSN program. The GWU curriculum is flexible yet rigorous, and available on a part-time schedule (along with the distance-learning online attendance) to allow for students to maintain work and family obligations. Students are expected to take 15 months to complete the BSN portion of the program before moving on to the MSN portion. In addition to coursework, the MSN component requires 700 hours of clinical experience with an approved preceptor. Students are encouraged to find their own preceptor in their own area, helping to make the clinical portion of the program more convenient for working professionals. While all coursework is fully online, two on-campus visits required during the course of the program. Graduates of the GW MSN: FNP program become leaders in their communities, ready to deliver patient-centered primary care to families and individuals of all ages.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

10. Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola University New Orleans is one of the premiere private research universities in the Deep South, ranked one of the top regional universities in the South, and one of the top Catholic universities, by College Consensus. Founded in 1904 by the Society of Jesus, Loyola New Orleans is a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, one of the most respected systems of Catholic colleges in the world. In over a century of service, Loyola has made a major impact on the life and workforce of New Orleans, especially in business, law, and healthcare. Loyola New Orleans is particularly known for the CCNE-accredited College of Nursing and Health, which has earned national attention for its on-campus and especially its online degree programs (as well as the Loyola Institute for Ministry, which is part of the college).

Loyola New Orleans’ online MSN degree program has been ranked as one of the top online nursing degrees in the nation, providing a convenient way for working nurses to earn a higher degree. Loyola offers two specific tracks to the MSN for students who already have an associate’s degree and an RN license; the RN-MSN bridge takes students straight through to the MSN, while the RN-BSN-MSN track allows students to earn a BSN and MSN at the same time. The Family Nurse Practitioner track gives students a 42 credit program and 720 clinical hours, enough to qualify graduates to sit for the national FNP certification exam.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

11. University of Colorado Colorado Springs

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs, regularly ranked one of the top regional universities in the West, is rooted in health; the original campus began as a sanatorium for the wealthy nicknamed “The Sun Palace.” Today, the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences at UCCS prides itself on having smaller student/faculty ratios, a collaborative approach to education, and innovative clinical education partnerships. Students who live in Colorado have a plethora of resources to help and enhance their nursing education, but even online students benefit from these rich academic/health partnerships that provide experience and knowledge in their own specific concentration. Currently, local students can serve at facilities including The Aging Center, the Center for Active Learning, and the Lane Center for Academic Learning.

UCCS’s online MSN-FNP program requires two steps to obtain the FNP degree. First, ADN students should enroll in the Online Dual Enrollment program; https://www.uccs.edu/bethel/nursing-programs/bs-rnbsn-dual-enrollment-online then, upon completion of their BSN, they are eligible to enroll in the 100% online MSN – Nurse Practitioner Option. UCCS requires 46-credit hours for their MSN-NP program; however, they do not require any campus visits, making the online program especially convenient for working nurses. In fact, all clinicals can be arranged locally. Currently, because of individual state regulations, only students from 19 states can be accepted in the UCCS program. https://www.uccs.edu/bethel/nursing-programs/ms-nursing-nurse-practitioner-option-online

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

12. Wilkes University

Wilkes University is a private, co-ed, institution located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1933, Wilkes was initially intended to attract first-generation college students looking to reap the benefits of higher education in the local surrounding areas. Today, Wilkes University continues to be known for a small student to faculty ratio and with over 50 percent of classes having less than 20 students per class; with an emphasis on support and mentorship, Wilkes is a nurturing community where students will not feel lost or forgotten as in big public institutions. The university is accredited by the Middle State Association of Colleges and Schools and has also received accreditation from various professional accreditation associations for individual degree plans. Wilkes has also been ranked one of the Top 100 Best Colleges for Veterans by College Consensus. https://www.collegeconsensus.com/rankings/best-colleges-veterans/

Designed for working nurses who are looking to advance their careers in the industry, Wilkes offers convenient online Nursing programs at the Undergraduate, Graduate and Post-Graduate Certificate levels. Wilkes’ online RN to MSN program, with a Family Nurse Practitioner concentration, is an accelerated path of 53-credits. Two bridge courses will bring ADN-RN students to the bachelor’s level, allowing them to earn a master’s degree in the Family Nurse Practitioner program in a short amount of time. The RN to MSN program at Wilkes is primarily online, but there are required clinical hours; however, they can be completed in an approved location close to where students reside. A brief on-campus residency is required for one class.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

13. Millersville University

Founded in 1855 as a teacher-training normal school in Lancaster County, Millersville University, is one of 14 public universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. With its foundation in hands-on, experiential learning, Millersville grew into a regional college regularly ranked as one of the best in the North by agencies like College Consensus. While Millersville has developed well beyond just teacher education programs, the university is still recognized for its excellence in preparing students for the job market in professional fields, particularly in nursing. The ACEN-accredited Department of Nursing provides exceptional nursing programs up to the MSN, including fully online programs.

Millersville University’s online RN to BSN program to MSN-FNP is offered in a flexible online format designed for working students with busy schedules. In order to make the program as accessible and convenient as possible for working nurses, Millersville assesses previous credit to get students farther along the path, while a self-paced format adds flexibility to the process. After completing the RN to BSN, students can go straight into the online MSN, which is also designed for the part-time student. Completion of the program requires the completion of 43 theory hours and 672 clinical hours. Millersville also offers a good deal of scholarships and awards available for all levels of study– academic potential and financial need may or may not be factored in.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

14. MCPHS University

The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – now known as MCPHS University – is ranked as one of the top institutions in the North for health. MCPHS is a “teaching” institution, meaning that faculty are focused on mentoring students unlike in a research-institution where there is a pressure for professors to further their own careers first. Ranking at the top for return on investment in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings for 2018, MCPHS graduates come out as top (#1) University in the US for “Earning Power.” According to the U.S. Department of Education, MCPHS graduates earn $112,700 ten years after enrolling, making them the top earners in New England. With a 15:1 student/faculty ratio, and more than 90% of faculty holding the highest degree in their field, MCPHS offers a variety of healthcare-specific programs that are highly valued on the job market.

With two starting times (Spring and Summer), the MCPHS University part-time MSN program is available online or in-person at a choice of two Northeast campus locations (Worcester and Manchester). While the online format is the most flexible, even the on-campus program is a convenient option for students within driving distance, as classes are held just one day per week. MCPHS emphasizes the importance of networking; one of the resources they provide is the Center for Professional and Career Development (CPCD). The CPCD provides individualized advising, training, and 24/7 employer and career opportunities information online. Please note, while coursework for the MSN-FNP program is online, students must attend two short 1-3 day residencies, throughout the duration of their program. These residencies include: new student orientation, second year residency, and a final residency in May that coincides with graduation. An FNP board pass rate of 91% shows that the MCPHS online FNP program is a winner.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

15. Simmons College

A private, women-centered college in Boston, MA, Simmons College was founded in 1899 for the express purpose of helping women gain the education they needed to live as independent professionals. Today, Simmons continues to rank as one of the top 10 women’s colleges in the US. While times have changed, and Simmons’ programs have grown, that mission is still at the heart of everything Simmons does, from business and education to public policy and health sciences. Nursing@Simmons is the online division of the Simmons College School of Nursing and Health Sciences (SNHS), delivering renowned nursing degree programs in a 100% online format. The CCNE-accredited nursing school at Simmons use cutting-edge technology and a state-of-the-art online learning platform to help currently registered nurses earn their advanced degrees without needing to relocate to Simmons’s campus in Boston, MA.

The Simmons online RN to MSN program is ideal for licensed Registered Nurses (RNs) who have earned an associate degree or a nursing diploma. A BSN, nor any bachelor’s degree is required for entry into their RN to MSN program. The MSN-FNP track at Simmons will help students maintain the balance of work, school, and personal commitments, as all coursework is delivered online. Virtual classes are purposely kept small at approximately 15 students each to ensure a nurturing academic environment for online learners. Students of the Nursing@Simmons FNP program will complete 68 course credits and a minimum of 836 clinical hours throughout 8 terms for full-time or 10 terms for part-time. Each term lasts 14 weeks. An estimation of total time to completion of degree for the full-time program is as little as 30 months while the part-time program can be completed in as little as 36 months.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

16. University of South Alabama

University of South Alabama (USA), founded in 1963, has provided the Southern Gulf region access to quality education in business, engineering, liberal arts, and many other fields of study. The College of Medicine began in 1973, and the focus on health education continued with the addition of the College of Nursing and the Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions soon after. The region surrounding USA is also home to four key health care facilities linked to the university- the USA Medical Center, the USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, and the USA Physicians Group. These important institutions provide life-saving healthcare services to communities throughout the Gulf coast region.

The University of South Alabama’s online MSN degree program includes an FNP specialization designed for nursing professionals who want to advance their career. Coursework for the program include concepts, theory, research, and issues related to advanced nursing practice, these courses are offered exclusively online. The clinical requirements can usually be completed with preceptors in the students’ home state or area. Students in the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty must attend two mandatory on-campus visits – designated as Phase 1 and Phase 2 – that include basic skills workshops, simulation labs, and clinical exams.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

17. Delta State University

Delta State University is a public institution offering undergraduate and graduate degrees to approximately 3500 students. Founded in 1924 as a teacher training school (on the campus of a former agricultural high school), Delta State is focused, above all, on the needs of Mississippi’s working adults and professionals. DSU is a school that is so deeply Mississippian that its school mascot is an okra. Not just any okra; legend has it, the Fighting Okra ( a student-created mascot with a tendency towards mayhem) is of the Angry Okri variety, and the motto of DSU’s athletic teams is “Fear the Okra.” All silliness aside, Delta State has emerged in recent years as a top regional institution, devoted to educating new generations of Mississippi leaders.

DSU’s Robert E. Smith School of Nursing is training professionals in medical fields to meet the health care needs of the people of Mississippi. Delta State’s online MSN degree program is accredited by the CCNE. This 2-year online MSN degree offers several program concentration options including Nurse Administrator, Nurse Educator, or Family Nurse Practitioner. In Mississippi, a state with a shortage of doctors, the FNP specialization is especially important, as trained and certified Family Nurse Practitioners play a major role in closing the gap in medical access across Mississippi’s rural and urban regions. DSU’s MSN-FNP program carefully combines online courses with scheduled campus seminars. With approval of faculty, students can arrange their clinical practice in their home regions, making the online program even more convenient for distance learners wherever they are.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

18. Chamberlain University

Chamberlain University, located in St. Louis, MO, has more than 125 years of teaching and training healthcare professionals. Chamberlain was originally established in the Deaconess tradition of 19th century Europe, where woman obligated themselves to 5 years in a variety of community serving (in this case- healthcare) – the same tradition that the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale belonged to. In fact, up until 2006 Chamberlain University was named Deaconess College of Nursing. Obviously, Chamberlain has a lot to live up to with a pedigree like that, and the university has earned national recognition for its top-ranked nursing programs – especially its online options.

Chamberlain’s online MSN degree program allows eligible RN students to complete their BSN degree and enroll in the MSN program simultaneously. As the student moves into the MSN sequence, they’ll choose between one of five specialty tracks: Educator, Executive, Family Nurse Practitioner, Healthcare Policy, or Informatics. Coursework at Chamberlain is conducted completely online save for one visit during the seventh week of the program, called the “immersion weekend.” Chamberlain’s FNP online program uses interactive discussion threads and simulation clinicals to help students learn both theory and practical applications. The FNP track MSN degree at Chamberlain can be completed in 8 semesters of year-round, full-time study, and graduates will be fully prepared to sit for national certification as an FNP and ready to work in a variety of healthcare settings.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

19. Otterbein University

Otterbein University was founded in 1847 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (and named for the founder of the denomination), though today OU is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. In its earliest days, Otterbein was one of the first universities to welcome women and minorities on an equal basis with white men, and its tradition of fighting for what’s right – from sheltering runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad, to protecting Japanese-American during WWII – continues today. Otterbein is devoted to service, and that includes its service to its students, and the service its students and alumni provide in their communities.

For students who want to serve as nurse practitioners, Otterbein’s hybrid ADN to MSN degree program provides a convenient way to pursue their career goal. Otterbein’s program offers two possible formats: fully online (with two on-campus visits per semester) or once-weekly on-campus evening classes. Students benefit significantly from a low student:faculty ratio (12:1) and small classes, but Otterbein’s master’s program is not small – more than 700 students enroll annually. While Otterbein is primarily known as an undergraduate educator, its master’s programs are growing, thanks to a strong reputation; the MSN-FNP track has seen graduates receiving a 100% pass rate on the national FNP certification exams.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

20. Graceland University

Despite what our wildest imaginations would want, Graceland University was not founded by Elvis Presley, and does not have a single building decorated in a jungle theme. Rather, Graceland University was founded in 1895 by the Community of Christ, an offshoot of the Latter-Day Saints and the second-largest Mormon denomination (after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). Determined to meet the needs of Iowa’s people, Graceland was the first accredited junior college in the state, and while it grew into a university, Graceland always made outreach a priority. Graceland also has one of the oldest nursing programs in Iowa, beginning with a cooperative hospital diploma program in 1909.

Graceland’s online RN to BSN to MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program continues a tradition of exceptional distance education that goes back to 1987, when Graceland offered correspondence courses for working nurses to advance to a BSN in a flexible format. Later in 1995, their MSN was approved by The Higher Learning Commission and became Graceland University’s first graduate degree program. This CCNE-accredited program offers modules in areas including Pharmacotherapeutics, Advanced Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning, and Leadership Roles and Issues in Nursing, all with a focus on giving nurses the advanced practice and leadership skills to become independent Family Nurse Practitioners. Clinicals may be completed in the student’s own community, and students have the option to “stop out” at the BSN, without going on to earn the MSN, if they so choose.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

21. Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University – photo by Tracy Deer-Mirek

Sacred Heart University was founded in 1963 as an independent, Catholic University, and in just over 50 years has grown into the second-largest Catholic university in New England; it’s also the first Catholic college in the nation fully staffed by laypeople. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Sacred Heart University among the top universities in the North region, and for good reason; Sacred Heart’s holistic curriculum, including the influential Common Core foundations program (structured around leadership and responsibility), has made it a university on the map. Sacred Heart is especially known for its excellent, service-oriented health programs. Sacred Heart’s College of Nursing has an active Global program and encourages nursing students to serve abroad with them in medical mission work or conduct clinical studies which can count toward the required clinical hours of a degree program.

Sacred Heart’s RN-Master of Science in Nursing (RN-MSN) program is designed for RNs with a diploma or ADN. SHU’s MSN program is accelerated in nature and can be completed within 8 classes, versus other programs requiring 12. The Family Nurse Practitioner-focused primary care track is a specialization of the MSN program and students will be ready to practice with patients across all ages. Graduates will be fully prepared to sit for and pass the National exams certification examinations from the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). An online DNP is also available for nurses looking for a terminal degree with a career focus on nursing leadership.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

22. Rivier University

Rivier University is a private, Catholic liberal arts institution established in 1933 by the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary and Sister Madeleine of Jesus. Located in Nashua, New Hampshire, Rivier was named for the founder of the Presentation of Mary Blessed Anne-Marie Rivier, and has built a long reputation for whole-person education. In keeping with Catholic tradition, Rivier focuses on bringing together mind, body, and spirit, and its focus on service shows in its curriculum – education and nursing majors make up half of Rivier’s student body. Rivier has also made outreach a priority, including a growing slate of fully online degree programs in recent year. The Rivier University mission is, ‘transforming hearts and minds to serve the world, and they encourage students to change the world through service in their communities and professions.

Rivier’s nursing program offers five undergraduate and eight graduate level degrees in a convenient and affordable online format for students interested in career-advancement with ultimate flexibility. That includes the Rivier RN to MSN-FNP track, a 43 credit hours program that will take approximately 3-5 years depending on full-time or part-time study and current transferable credits. Online students will have all the same access to dynamic faculty as on-campus learners. With small class sizes, faculty members are always available for answering questions or explaining concepts to help students achieve their academic goals. A 100% passrate for the FNP national certification exams is pretty spectacular, too.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

23. Regis College

Regis College is a top-ranked Catholic institution in Weston, MA, a suburb of Boston, and since its founding in 1927 has developed a reputation that helps it stand out even in a city with more than 50 colleges and universities. Founded by the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph, Regis began as a women’s college, originally focusing on teaching and nursing, the order’s primary missions. Today, Regis is still well-regarded regionally for its health science programs, especially in nursing, with a combination of the most current technology and skills, with age-old Catholic values and ethics. Ranked among the best regional colleges in the North by the Princeton Review, Regis is dedicated to social justice, service, and outreach.

The ACEN-accredited School of Nursing offers Regis’ online MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program, a flexible, convenient plan of study for working nurses at all levels. Students can start the program with an associate’s degree, a non-nursing bachelor’s, or a BSN, with well-designed paths for each starting point, and no GRE score requirements. Students who already have a BSN can complete their MSN and be qualified to sit for the national FNP certification exam in just 2 years; RNs with an associate’s degree can finish in as little as 3 years. With recognition as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing, and a commitment to service and lifelong learning, Regis’ MNS FNP program is an excellent start to a Nurse Practitioner career.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

24. Herzing University

Herzing University began in 1965 as a computer training school opened by husband and wife entrepreneurs Henry and Suzanne Herzing. While its start as a local technical institute in Milwaukee, WI, was small, the Herzing’s ambitions were not, and the school grew over the next 50 years, adding programs and reaching university status by 2009. In addition to 11 campuses spread across eight states (including Ohio, Georgia, and Alabama), Herzing has developed a large online presence, offering numerous fully online degree programs in business, computer science, healthcare, and more. In 2015 Herzing became a non-profit university to better serve the needs of its nationwide student body.

Herzing’s online RN to MSN-FNP program works in a 2-step process. The first part, for nurses with an RN license and an associate’s degree, allows students to earn their BSN in a little as 12 months of full-time study. Rolling admissions and a choice between 8-week or 16-week terms adds to the flexibility. Upon completing the BSN, students can then move on to the CCNE-accredited MSN-FNP program, which has been ranked one of the best online graduate nursing programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The Family Nurse Practitioner program is available fully online, with 675 clinical hours and professional development opportunities

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$

25. Frontier Nursing University

One of the most unique institutions in the field of nursing, Frontier Nursing University’s name says virtually everything there is to say about its origins. A private, nonprofit graduate institution, Frontier Nursing was founded in 1939 as a part of the Frontier Nursing Service, a program established by midwife Mary Breckenridge in 1925 to bring modern care to rural Kentucky. Originally focused on midwifery, Frontier was – pun entirely intended – a pioneer in women’s and children’s health, starting the first Family Nurse Practitioner program in the US in 1970, and starting the nation’s first online programs in nurse midwifery. FNU is ranked one of the top Family Nurse Practitioner programs in America by U.S. News & World Report.

FNU’s online MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program is designed for both full or part-time students. As one of the originators of community-based Family Nurse Practitioner study, FNU’s FNP program is intended to help students learn not only what they need to work as advanced clinicians, but as entrepreneurial leaders in the modern healthcare system. All coursework is fully online, with just two short residencies; the 675 clinical hours necessary can be completed in the student’s own community, with a practicing FNP guiding the experience. Even better, with just 19 more credits, MSN students can integrate straight into the DNP program without having to apply.

Focus: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Degree: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Cost: $$$$$