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Best Online 2-Year Nurse Practitioner Programs For 2021


Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

If you are a registered nurse considering becoming a nurse practitioner, 2-year nurse practitioner programs online offer an excellent opportunity to achieve that goal by earning your degree in less time and on your terms. Distance learning has become a popular option for working nurses and those with personal or family obligations who may otherwise not return to school. As you read further, you will learn about some of the best online 2-year nurse practitioner programs for 2021 and the colleges that offer them. You will find information such as the specialty concentrations each program offers, required coursework and clinicals, and get some answers to frequently asked questions.


What Exactly Is the Goal of A 2-Year Nurse Practitioner Program?


Two-year nurse practitioner programs aim to prepare graduates for advanced practice nursing in diverse settings, such as private practices, clinics, businesses, hospital systems, governmental or managed care organizations. Programs tailor the curriculum based on the population foci and expose students to patients with varying degrees of health issues, teaching them to be effective caregivers who promote improved patient outcomes. Online 2-year nurse practitioner programs, like those featured in this article, meet these goals with students who choose distance learning, helping more nurses achieve their dreams of becoming nurse practitioners in less time and on their terms.


5 Benefits of 2-Year Nurse Practitioner Programs


Earning a nurse practitioner degree can be very rewarding in many ways. If you are considering pursuing a career as an NP but aren’t sure if a 2-year NP program is the right choice for you, these five benefits of online 2-year nurse practitioner programs may help you decide.

1. Flexible schedules: The best 2-year nurse practitioner programs online typically offer students more flexibility regarding the time and place where they study. Some content, including lectures, may be pre-recorded or provided with a play-back option for students who cannot watch a live stream of a class. Students who work or who have a family to care for typically find the flexibility of online learning to be a significant benefit conducive to pursuing their academic goals.
2. Save money on your degree. The costs associated with 2-year online nurse practitioner programs are typically lower than traditional on-campus classes or programs. Tuition is often less, and there is no expense for room and board. Students enrolled in these programs also save money on travel to and from classes. The savings can add up to thousands of dollars.
3. Increased Autonomy: Nurse practitioners have prescriptive authority, order and interpret medical tests, and create care plans for patients. Many states now allow nurse practitioners full practice authority, allowing them to have private practices.
4. Make more money: Nurse practitioners, in general, earn an average of $30,000 more each year than registered nurses with a BSN. The NPs area of specialty, such as family, pediatrics, or women’s health, and the need for practitioners with that experience can mean even higher wages. 2-year programs make it easier for nurses to achieve their goal of becoming nurse practitioners in a shorter amount of time.
5. Job Opportunities: Nurse practitioners work in diverse positions across all healthcare settings. Some NPs work in private practices, hospitals, emergency rooms, or academia. Others conduct research, work as nurse advocates in political positions or as business strategists. Accredited 2-year nurse practitioner programs online prepare nurses to take on these roles and become effective in whatever role they choose.


How Much Do Online 2-Year Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?


With four online 2-year nurse practitioner programs to choose from, the University of Missouri-Columbia has something to offer every nurse who aspires to become a nurse practitioner. The university's NP programs include Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Each of the programs is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The following list includes the number of credit hours and the estimated cost of each program.

Adult-Gerontology NP: 46 credit hours; estimated cost $31,266.20
Family NP: 46 credit hours; estimated Cost: $31,266.40
Neonatal NP: 45 credit hours; estimated cost $30,586.50
Pediatric NP: 52 credit hours; estimated cost $41,029.40

The Family Nurse Practitioner program at D’Youville University was designed with working nurses in mind. The 2-year online FNP program offers flexible courses, an advanced curriculum, and affordable tuition. Students in the program complete forty-credit hours at a rate of $900 per credit hour, making the program cost approximately $36,000.

Ohio State University’s two-year nurse practitioner programs online cost an average of $52,754.50. Non-residents pay an additional $1,000 for the program. This fee is estimated based on full-time enrollment and five-semester (two years) completion and includes program, general, distance-learning, and nursing fees.

Delta State University offers registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree the opportunity to apply to its Family Nurse Practitioner program. The program, which includes forty-two to forty-five semester hours and 1,020 post-baccalaureate clinical hours, can be completed in two years of full-time study or four semesters. The per-semester tuition rate is $4095, totaling $16,380 for students who complete the program within the two-year plan.


Coursework


The best 2-year nurse practitioner programs online offer students preparation for practice in an ever-evolving industry. These programs include core coursework, specialty courses, and clinical experiences. Core coursework is similar, regardless of the student's chosen concentration, and includes classes in physiology, pharmacology, health assessment, and statistics. Specialty coursework are classes that are specific to the student's desired concentration, such as neonatal, adult/gerontology, pediatric, or psychiatric health.

The following are examples of required coursework at some of the two-year online nurse practitioner programs featured in this article.

Ohio University’s School of Nursing offers Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner online 2-year nurse practitioner programs. The AGACNP is designed to prepare students to manage common adult health problems, develop advanced decision-making skills, and advanced clinical diagnoses to improve the quality of health for patients. The Family Nurse Practitioner program focuses on providing advanced practice care in primary settings, managing care of patients across the lifespan. The AG-ACNP program is a forty-six-credit-hour course, and the FNP program includes forty-one credit hours. Both paths require students to complete a minimum of 650 clinical practice hours.

AG-ACNP Sample Coursework:

◦ AG-ACNP Management of Common Adult Health Problems
◦ Advanced Diagnostic and Procedures for Clinical Decision Making
◦ Applied Clinical Pharmacology for the AG-ACNP
◦ Advanced Health Appraisal for NPs

FNP Sample Coursework:

◦ Theoretical Basis for Practice
◦ Analysis of Evidence-Based Practice for Advanced Nursing Practice
◦ Assessment and Interventions for Families
◦ Health Appraisal for Nurse Practitioners

With 100% pass rates on board certification tests, the University of Michigan is home to a few of our featured best 2-year nurse practitioner programs online, the Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner programs. Faculty members design these programs with inputs from national experts in online learning. The MSN-FNP program includes fifty-five credit hours of coursework, and the AG-PCNP includes forty-nine. Entry to both programs is designed for students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Sample Coursework:

◦ Models and Theories to Inform Advanced Nursing Practice with Individuals, Communities, and Complex Systems
◦ Advanced Primary Care Nursing of Chronic Illness in Adults and Their Families
◦ Advanced Primary care Nursing of Adults and Families with Complex Systems
◦ Infant, Child, and Adolescent Health: Wellness and Management of Common Illness

The CCNE-accredited MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner program at Western University gives baccalaureate-prepared nurses with personal or family commitments the opportunity to continue their education and advance their careers forward. The 2-year online FNP program requires students to complete sixty-five-semester units, and the PMHNP path requires forty-four. The programs offer pacing and scheduling flexibility using combined self-directed learning activities, weekend seminars, and collaborative projects.

FNP Sample Coursework:

◦ Societal and Ethical Issues
◦ Complementary and Alternative Therapies
◦ Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
◦ Human Diversity

PMHNP Sample Coursework:

◦ Counseling Across the Lifespan
◦ Psychiatric Mental Healthcare Management Across Settings
◦ Management Practice Issues
◦ Advanced Pathophysiology I & II

The goal of Kent State University’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program is to bridge the gap between mental health services and patients who lack care because of the shortage of mental health professionals. The 2-year NP program prepares students to use a holistic approach to advanced practice nursing care for individuals with addictions and mental illnesses. The university also offers a 2-year Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program preparing students to practice independently or collaborate with other healthcare professionals, use clinical judgment and skills to provide care to women in various settings and from diverse backgrounds.

PMHNP Sample Coursework:

◦ Neurobiology and Psychopharmacology of Major Psychiatric Disorders
◦ Advanced Mental Health Assessment and Psychopathology
◦ Individual, Organization, and Community Consultation
◦ Advanced Nursing Informatics

WHNP Sample Coursework

◦ Pharmacology for Advanced Practice Nursing
◦ Clinical Diagnostics for Advanced Practice Nursing
◦ Advanced Health Assessment
◦ Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner I, II, and III


Clinical Training


Per an article published by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many credentialing agencies have updated their policies regarding clinical training for NP students. Nurse practitioner students enrolled in MSN-NP programs must complete a minimum of five hundred precepted direct patient care clinical practice hours to be eligible to sit for certification examinations. Although the minimum requirement is five hundred hours, colleges and universities may exercise the right to establish different expectations for students regarding the fulfillment of clinical experiences.

The following are a few examples of clinical requirements at some of this article’s featured two-year nurse practitioner programs online.

Simmons University offers a Family Nurse Practitioner program that includes a rigorous academic curriculum, including forty-eight-course credits. The program prepares students to promote the health and well-being of patients by assessing, preventing, and managing illness and disease. Students are expected to complete 672 clinical practice hours. Under the supervision of approved preceptors, FNP students provide care to patients across diverse populations, including performing head-to-two physical examinations, diagnosing acute and chronic illnesses, and developing care plans to improve patient outcomes.
At Herzing University, the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program was designed with the understanding that “whole health begins with mental health.” With six start dates per year and no waiting list, accepted applicants can begin the PMHNP program the semester following admission is offered and can graduate in as few as twenty-four months. After completing forty-eight credits and 540 clinical hours, students in the 2-year online PMHNP program are eligible to sit for the ANCC certification exam to become a Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.


Admission Requirements


As you research 2-year nurse practitioner programs online and begin to choose those where you would like to apply, pay close attention to the admission criteria. Colleges and universities determine the criteria by which applications are reviewed and which applicants are offered a spot in their nurse practitioner programs. There are some differences, depending on the school, state guidelines, and concentration-specific criteria. On the other hand, most two-year online nurse practitioner programs have similar minimum admission requirements. A few examples include the following.

◦ Applicants must possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited school and program
◦ Possess an active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in the state where clinical practicum will be completed
◦ Submit official transcripts from all post-secondary schools/programs
◦ Provide letters of professional reference (two or three is the norm)
◦ Submit to state and federal criminal background check
◦ Pass a drug test (May be repeated before being admitted to the clinical portion of the program and randomly during enrollment)

Admission criteria for some of this article’s featured 2-year nurse practitioner online programs are listed below.

• Delta State University:

◦ A combined verbal and quantitative score equal to or greater than 280 and an analytic score equal to or greater than 3.5 on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
◦ Minimum one-year clinical nursing experience as a registered nurse with direct patient contact within the previous three years
◦ Resume or curriculum vitae
◦ Statement of Intent submitted with application packet
◦ Interview with program faculty after application materials are approved

• University of Michigan:

◦ Possess or be in the process of earning a BSN from an AACN, CCNE, or NLN-accredited institution (Applicants must complete the BSN degree before the beginning term of the NP program)
◦ Cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
◦ Participate in video assessment through Kira Talent after application for admission has been reviewed by the admissions committee
◦ A resume that reflects nursing-specific experiences and leadership roles/activities
◦ At least two references from a master’s or doctorate-prepared nurse who can speak to the applicant’s potential for success in a graduate nursing program

• Kent State University:

◦ Minimum BSN from an accredited school of registered nursing
◦ Undergraduate statistics course with a minimum grade of “C”
◦ Undergraduate and/or graduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
◦ Two or three-page essay describing the reason for seeking a degree as a nurse practitioner in the applicant's chosen specialty and applicant's professional goals
◦ All international students must provide proof of English language proficiency

• Simmons University:

◦ Be a US citizen or permanent resident
◦ BSN from a regionally accredited US college or university with at least a 3.0 GPA on all undergraduate coursework
◦ Complete a three-credit course in Statistics with a minimum grade of "83"
◦ Complete a three-credit course in Health Assessment with a minimum grade of "83"
◦ Personal Statement that discusses career goals, how specific clinical experiences have prepared the applicant for the FNP role, and why Simmons is the best fit for the prospective student


5 Qualities the Best 2-Year Nurse Practitioner Programs Have in Common


After deciding you want to become a nurse practitioner and determining the population foci you wish to specialize in, then comes the task of choosing the program that is best for you. If you know what to look for in a program, it will make choosing your program easier. The following are five qualities of the best online 2-year nurse practitioner programs.

1. Accreditation: According to the United States Department of Education, “The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality." Accreditation helps to further the nursing profession and enhance the quality of care given by nurse practitioners. Because accreditation helps ensure NP programs across the US are held to common standards, graduates of accredited 2-year nurse practitioner programs online can expect to be prepared with the same level of competence as other students, regardless of their geographic location.
2. Faculty Experience: If you plan to pursue a degree and become a nurse practitioner, you want to learn from the best, right? Visit the webpages for nurse practitioner programs at the schools that interest you. Look up faculty profiles and experience. The most successful programs employ faculty who are actively involved in nursing practice. By doing so, colleges and universities can be sure they utilize instructors who are skilled in the most up-to-date procedures and information.
3. Certification Pass Rate: Even at the beginning of a 2-year online NP program, you should have "the end" in mind. In this case, "the end" refers to the beginning of your career, and it requires passing the certification examination. As you consider the available programs, ask what percentage of program graduates pass the national certification exam. Programs with a pass rate of at least 90 percent (bare minimum) are what you should look for!
4. Job Placement Rate: While not all NP schools keep up with job placement rates, program directors and career counselors at schools that offer two-year online NP programs should be able to provide some information about graduate job placements. Knowing the job placement rate for a program will not only give you an idea of what the job market is for your chosen specialty, but it will also give you insight into how comfortable potential employers are with the education the school/program provides. The best 2-year online NP programs should have at least fifty percent of their graduates working in a relevant position within six months of program completion.
5. Clinical Requirements and Placements: Nurse practitioner students, regardless of population foci, are expected to complete a specific number of supervised clinical practice hours. Some NP schools assign students to clinical sites and preceptors, while others require students to find locations and preceptors and request approval before engaging in clinical practice. At times, it can be challenging to find a clinical preceptor or facility willing to allow students without an instructor. Many 2-year online NP programs permit students to complete clinicals closer to their homes or community, meaning students work with preceptors and not instructors. Be sure to ask if the school you are considering offers mentorship through the clinical selection process and during clinical rotations.



FOLLOWING ARE THE 10 BEST ONLINE 2-YEAR NURSE PRACTITIONER PROGRAMS IN THE NATION FOR 2021

(These two-year nurse practitioner programs are ideal for nurses who wish to become an NP in 24-months.)

1. The Ohio State University - Columbus, OH

Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


2. Ohio University - Athens, OH0

Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner


3. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, MI

Concentrations Offered: Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner


4. Western University of Health Sciences - Pomona, CA

Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


5. Delta State University - Cleveland, MS

Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner


6. Kent State University - Kent, OH

Concentrations Offered: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner


7. Simmons University - Boston, MA

Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner


8. Herzing University Milwaukee - Menomonee Falls, WI

Concentrations Offered: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


9. University of Missouri-Columbia - Columbia, MO

Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner


10. D'Youville College - Buffalo, NY

Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner

View Ranking Methodology



Career Opportunities After Graduating with This Degree


Career opportunities for graduates of the best online 2-year nurse practitioner programs cover a broad range of settings and patient populations. A nurse practitioner's chosen specialty will determine some of the places they work. The following are examples of a few nurse practitioner specialties and locations they may work.

Women’s Health NP:

◦ OB/GYN clinics
◦ Planned Parenthood Centers
◦ Prenatal Clinics
◦ Hospitals
◦ Women’s Correctional Facilities

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner:

◦ Community Mental Health Centers
◦ Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitals
◦ Outpatient Psychiatric Clinics
◦ Domestic Violence Shelters
◦ Veteran’s Homes or Hospitals

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners:

◦ Pediatric Clinics
◦ Hospitals
◦ School Health Care Centers
◦ Convenience Clinics
◦ Pediatric Intensive Care Units

Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioners:

◦ Long-Term Care Facilities
◦ Assisted Living Centers
◦ Home Health
◦ Hospice
◦ Primary Care Centers


Average Salary for Graduates of This Degree


Graduates of 2-year nurse practitioner programs online earn an average of $98,000 a year. This salary, equivalent to $47.16 hourly or $8,179 monthly, is more than the national average for most jobs reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graduates who have prior experience working with patients in their chosen specialty may negotiate higher wages. Other factors that impact earning potential include a nurse practitioner's schedule, the type of setting where they work, and the cost of living for the area where they are located.

Job applicants should also keep in mind to ask potential employers about benefits packages that may be offered. In some cases, benefits packages can add up to thousands of dollars worth of benefits. Examples of package benefits include medical, dental, vision, or life insurance, paid sick leave, paid vacation, employer-sponsored retirement plans, and education stipends for employees to pay for continuing education.

Hourly $47.16
Monthly $8,170
Annual $98,086
(Source: payscale.com)


Job Outlook for Graduates of This Degree


Increased demand for primary and acute care healthcare providers has increased in the past decade. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, reports a lack of primary healthcare professionals nationwide. The need for providers in outpatient care settings and decreased numbers of healthcare providers in underserved or rural areas indicate a continued increase in job opportunities. The average estimated job growth is between nineteen and twenty-two percent through 2028, making the outlook for graduates of 2-year nurse practitioner programs online promising.


Bottomline


A career as a nurse practitioner offers many opportunities. From increased earning potential, a sense of personal accomplishment, and the ability to impact patient care and improve outcomes, there are several reasons you may find the idea of pursuing a nurse practitioner license appealing. If you can see yourself in one of these roles, the best online 2-year nurse practitioner programs for 2021 featured in this article can help you achieve that goal.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


Do I need a minimum amount of nursing experience before I start a 2-year online nurse practitioner program?

It is common for NP schools to require nurse practitioner students to have a minimum amount of work experience before enrollment. Because students in accredited 2-year nurse practitioner programs online study independently and complete clinical requirements in their community or current place of employment, it is understandable that documented clinical experience is part of admission criteria. When you have chosen a school you wish to apply to, speak with an admission advisor to verify the requirements for their program.

How do I choose which specialty is best for me in two-year NP programs?

Choosing a specialty is about what interests you, not the length of the program. If you prefer to work with adults or older people, a 2-year online NP program with an Adult-Gerontology specialization could be a good fit for you. Nurses who prefer to work with women may choose a program that offers a Women's Health NP specialization. The important thing is to decide the type of patients you want to care for and then find an accredited 2-year online NP program that offers that concentration.

What type of financial aid is available to students in enrolled in two-year NP programs?

There are several ways to obtain financial assistance to help fund your professional education. Private loans, education stipends from employers, scholarships, and residencies are a few options you may have access to. Further, the federal government offers grants and loans to students in need. Each type of financial assistance has criteria that applicants must meet, and applying early will help ensure you have timely access to resources.


Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years' experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels.