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Best HBCU Nurse Practitioner Programs (Online & Campus) For 2022

Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Have you ever heard the term "HBCU" and wondered what it means? HBCU stands for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCUs are schools of higher learning in the United States established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prior to the Civil Rights Act, schools' segregation meant that most colleges and universities gave overwhelming preference to predominately white applicants. During this time, institutions of higher learning nursing schools included limited or altogether disqualified enrollment of African American applicants, even if they met or exceeded admission criteria.

Today there are a little over one hundred Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States. Like other higher learning institutions, these colleges offer a variety of programs to applicants who wish to earn associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. In this article, we will focus our attention specifically on HBCU nurse practitioner programs. As we look at some of the best HBCU nurse practitioner programs for 2022, keep in mind that they now offer enrollment opportunities to a variety of students, not just African American applicants.

What Exactly Is the Purpose of an HBCU Nurse Practitioner Program?

The purpose of HBCU nurse practitioner programs is to provide graduate-level nursing degree options for African American students and others who may not seek this type of degree in other settings. Historically Black Colleges and Universities provide a stable learning environment for individuals who may be at increased risk of not entering college or who are less likely to complete a college program if they do enroll. Although HBCUs were established in 1892 with the first predominately black African American nursing school, Tuskegee University, they are no longer the only place African American nurses can train. Further, HBCUs now enroll students of other races, as well.

4 Advantages of Pursuing A Nurse Practitioner Program at An HBCU

As you research nurse practitioner programs, you will find that there are advantages and disadvantages of both the programs and the institutions that offer them. Here, we will discuss some of advantages of pursuing a degree through HBCU nurse practitioner programs.

1. Outstanding Academic Programs: The faculty and staff who teach HBCU nurse practitioner programs are dedicated to developing the next generation of nurse practitioners. HBCUs have a more diverse student population today than they did in the years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although they represent only three percent of the colleges in the United States, they are still credited with educating ten percent of graduate-level African American students.
2. Impact the Racial Wealth Gap by Taking Advantage of Lower Tuition Costs at an HBCU to Obtain a Degree: It is common for students of all racial or socioeconomic backgrounds to have college debts. Over forty-three million Americans today have combined student loan debts over $1.4 trillion (about $4,300 per person in the U.S.). An estimated fifty-six percent of the country's student loan debts are associated with African American students. Historically Black Colleges and Universities cost almost 30 percent less than non-HBCUs, which means they help reduce the wealth gap among minority and non-minority students.
3. Meeting the Needs of Low-Income Students: Seventy percent of the over 300,000 students who attend HBCUs yearly qualify for federal grants and loans because they come from low-income families. HBCUs provide an opportunity for students at risk for not entering or completing college to do so with lower costs and financial assistance.
4. Ethnic orientation and cultural interests are not restricted. While listing this advantage may seem a bit off-topic for some, it is worth noting that HBCU nurse practitioner schools foster an atmosphere designed to support the cultural beliefs and interests of minority groups, especially African Americans. When a person’s ethnicity and cultural interests are allowed to flourish, rather than be restricted, the person naturally flourishes in other aspects of their life, including academics.

How Long Are HBCU Nurse Practitioner Programs?

The Graduate Nursing program at Howard University offers traditional in-person and online options for its advanced practice nursing programs. The family nurse practitioner program includes forty-six semester hours and additional clinical practicum hours. The post-master's certificate pathway requires thirty-two semester hours as well as clinical practicum. The programs can be completed in as little as eighteen months, or up to three years, depending on the student's current degree-level upon program entry.

Grambling State University (GSU) offers two pathways to earn a nurse practitioner degree: the Master of Science in Nursing degree with FNP or PNP (Pediatric Nurse Practitioner) options and the Post-Master's Certificate-FNP concentration. Ranked number six in Louisiana and the top twenty-five percent in the United States, GSU is among the top HBCU nurse practitioner programs. The FNP and PNP nursing programs can be completed in twenty-one months (five semesters) of full-time study. The Post-Master's Certificate-FNP can be completed in eighteen months of full-time course study.

How Much Do HBCU Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?

Historically Black Colleges and Universities tend to be more budget-friendly. HBCU nurse practitioner programs, on average, cost nearly thirty percent less than non-HBCU institutions offering the same programs. HBCUs provide a great deal of support to prospective students who come from low-income families or first-generation college students, making it easier for applicants to find placement in a program, secure financial assistance, and finish the programs successfully. Even with the cost of programs at an HBCU being slightly less expensive, it is not uncommon for graduate programs, such as HBCU nurse practitioner programs, to cost students anywhere from $15,000 to over $100,000.

Winston-Salem State University offers three family nurse practitioner pathways for students to choose from and is among the best HBCU nurse practitioner programs we have found.

1. The MSN-FNP program curriculum includes fifty-one credit hours and participation in at least 672 clinical hours.
2. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is open to applicants who have earned a BSN degree or higher. The BSN to DNP pathway is a 78-credit hour program and requires completion of at least 1,182 clinical practicum hours. The MSN to DNP requires completion of thirty-three credit hours and a minimum of 510 clinical hours.
3. The Post-Master's Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate program is for master's-prepared RNs who are a.) not yet prepared as a nurse practitioner or b.) have an NP certification in one specialty but desire to earn the Family Nurse Practitioner credential as well. Students must complete from 36-39 credit hours of coursework and at least 672 clinical hours.

The table below represents the cost of tuition for each nurse practitioner program offered at Winston-Salem State University. It is important to note that students may incur other expenses related to technology, student parking, meal plan, and on-campus living.

Program In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition
BSN to DNP-FNP $22,012.38 $60,687.12
MSN to DNP-FNP $14,392.71 $39,680.04
Post-Master's Certificate-FNP $10,159.56 $28,009.44

Prairie View A&M University offers an MSN program with a Family Nurse Practitioner specialty provided via on-campus delivery. The program's curriculum includes fifty-three credit hours, including 780 hours of clinical practice. Texas state residents who attend full-time pay approximately $22,510 annually. Non-residents can expect a higher rate of nearly $32,000 each year. These figures are estimates and include the cost of tuition, fees, room & board, books, loan fees, transportation, and an allotment for miscellaneous expenses. The program can be completed in two to three years of full-time study, depending on the student's degree-level upon enrollment. The program's total cost ranges from $45,000 to $96,000 depending on whether the student is a resident or non-resident and how many years they take to complete the program.


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and other healthcare authorities offer curriculum guidelines that suggest required coursework for baccalaureate and graduate-degree nursing programs. Because nursing faculty and deans across the country utilize guidelines like those provided by the AACN, students in both HBCU and non-HBCU nurse practitioner programs can expect to take similar courses.

To become a nurse practitioner, students must achieve at least a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Coursework will vary among students depending on their degree level upon entry to the nurse practitioner program. For example, there are ADN to MSN, BSN to MSN programs, and Doctor of Nursing Practice program options. Additionally, students who wish to become a nurse practitioner must choose a specialty such as Pediatrics, Women's Health, Family Health, and Psychiatric Mental Health as an area of focused study.

Typically, the coursework for any nurse practitioner program requires completing core classes, including advanced courses in the following subject areas.

• Pharmacology
• Pathophysiology
• Physical Assessment
• Nursing Theory
• Biostatistics & Epidemiology
• Cultural Diversity
• Nursing Theory
• Research
• Role Development

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science offers a few of the best HBCU online nurse practitioner programs available to prospective students. Their programs include MSN and Post-Master's Certificate programs for applicants who wish to become nurse practitioners. After acceptance to the school of nursing, students can choose between two certification pathways: Family Nurse Practitioner or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. In addition to the core curriculum, students enrolled in the FNP program also take Primary Care of Adults & Aged, Primary Care of Women & Children, Nursing Research, and Health Promotion/Disease Prevention. The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) pathway consists of classes such as Primary Mental Health Care I & II, Individual Psychotherapy, and Psychotherapy with Groups & Families.

Registered nurses who apply for the nurse practitioner program at Tennessee State University have the option of an MSN or Post-Graduate Certificate program, both of which offer Family Nurse Practitioner concentration. Students in these programs must complete Primary Care in Adult-Geriatric Clients, Primary Care in Pediatric Clients, and Primary Care in Women's Health coursework. Nurses who already possess an MSN from a nationally-accredited nursing program can apply for a post-master’s certificate with a family nurse practitioner concentration. Entry into the program requires three prerequisite courses, including Advanced Health Assessment (didactic and clinical), Advanced Pharmacology, and Advanced Pathophysiology.

Clinical Training

Credentialing agencies, such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANPCP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), require adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioners and family nurse practitioners to complete a minimum of five hundred supervised clinical hours to be eligible to take the national certification exams they offer. It is up to state boards of nursing to determine how many clinical hours nurse practitioner students must complete. To maintain consistency and align with both state and national requirements, most accredited nurse practitioner programs include between 500 and 1,000 clinical hours in their nurse practitioner curriculum.

Among some of the best HBCU nurse practitioner programs available, Alcorn State University, with campuses in historical Natchez and Lorman, Mississippi, offers Master of Science in Nursing and Post-Master’s Certificate programs with Family Nurse Practitioner concentration. Students enrolled in either program must complete sixty hours in Advanced Health Assessment Lab, and six hundred supervised clinical hours. At Bowie State University, the FNP program requires 49 credit hours of coursework, six hundred clinical practicum hours, and a comprehensive final examination.

Admission Requirements

If you want to attend one of the best HBCU nurse practitioner programs, it is essential to research admission requirements beforehand. Take the time to ensure you have supporting documentation demonstrating you meet the school's criteria for acceptance. While there are general admission requirements that all advanced practice nursing programs require, each school reserves the right to ask students to meet school-specific standards for acceptance.

General admission requirements typically include:

• Possess an active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse
• Submit official transcripts from all post-secondary schools you’ve attended
• Provide professional letters of reference

Albany State University applicants must have at minimum of one year of clinical nursing experience. Although all clinical nursing experience is relevant, applicants with experience in an adult medical/surgical setting are given preference. Prospective students must also have proof of a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 3.0 grading scale or 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale and participate in an interview with the director of the Graduate Nursing Programs. Before admission to the program's clinical practicum, the student must submit a copy of malpractice insurance and maintain that insurance throughout the clinical requirements.

To be considered for admission at Coppin State University, applicants must possess a BSN degree from an accredited nursing program, complete a course in elementary statistics, and participate in an interview with the program director. Additionally, the submission of three professional letters of recommendation supporting the applicant's personal and professional qualifications fit those of a nurse practitioner is required.

3 Things to Look for When Applying to Top HBCU Nurse Practitioner Programs

After deciding to pursue a nurse practitioner degree, you need to know what to look for in the schools you may be considering. Here are three essential things to look for if you are considering attending any HBCU nurse practitioner programs.

1. Accreditation: According to the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the accreditation process improves the quality of education provided by HBCU nurse practitioner schools. The process helps ensure that HBCU nurse practitioner schools keep their curriculum aligned with current standards of professional nursing practice.
2. Student success rate post-graduation: It is customary for schools to have information regarding the success rate of students who have graduated from their nursing programs. For example, you should be able to find out what percentage of new nursing graduates pass the NCLEX exam and how many graduate-level students pass the NP certification exams. Many schools will also have information about how quickly graduates find employment. These numbers are significant as they reflect how well the program prepares students for post-graduate success.
3. How are clinical placements determined? Clinical practicum requirements vary from one school to the next. Depending on whether you attend a traditional on-campus program or enroll in one of the HBCU online nurse practitioner programs, your options for clinical placement may vary, as well. Conventional on-campus programs typically involve students being assigned to clinical sites local to the school. On the other hand, distance learners are often required to find appropriate clinical sites and preceptors and have them approved by the school of nursing before the start of clinicals. You need to know what to expect in this regard to prepare and prevent any delays in completing the program.


(These HBCU-Nurse Practitioner programs are ideal for individuals who wish to pursue their Nurse Practitioner education at a Historically Black College or University.)

1. Winston-Salem State University - Winston-Salem, NC

Programs Offered: MSN (Campus), DNP (Hybrid), and Post-Graduate Certificate (Campus)
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner
DNP Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner
Post-Graduate Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

2. Prairie View A&M University - Houston, TX (Campus)

Programs Offered: MSN
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

3. Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science - Los Angeles, CA (Hybrid)

Programs Offered: MSN and Post Master’s Certificate
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Post Master’s Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

4. Tennessee State University - Nashville, TN (Online)

Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Graduate Certificate
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner
Post-Graduate Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

5. Alcorn State University - Natchez, MS (Campus)

Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner
Post-Graduate Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

6. Bowie State University - Bowie, MD (Campus)

Programs Offered: MSN and Post Master's Certificate
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner
Post Master's Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

7. Albany State University - Albany, GA (Online)

Programs Offered: MSN
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

8. Coppin State University - Baltimore, MD (Campus)

Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Master Certificate
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner
Post Master's Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

9. Howard University - Washington, D.C. (Hybrid)

Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Master Certificate
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner
Post Master's Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

10. Grambling State University - Grambling, LA (Campus)

Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Master Certificate
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Post Master's Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

11. Hampton University - Hampton, VA (Campus)

Programs Offered: MSN
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

12. Southern University and A&M College - Baton Rouge, LA (Campus)

Programs Offered: MSN
MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

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What Kind of Career Opportunities Exist for Graduates of This Program?

Graduates from some of the best HBCU nurse practitioner programs have many career opportunities. The pathway you choose for specialty concentration will influence where you work. Below are a few ideas of career options and places graduates may work.

Legal Nurse Consultant: These NPs serve an essential role as part of a legal team by reviewing medical records, providing expert opinions, and offering professional testimony in cases such as fraud, abuse, malpractice, or worker's compensation claims.
Nursing Instructor: Many advanced practice registered nurses choose to work as educators in colleges, universities, and hospital education departments.
Insurance Firm NP: Insurance companies often employ NPs to review medical claims or perform assessments on clients who wish to purchase insurance policies before approval.
Correction Facility NP: Jails, prisons, and other types of detention centers are another option for NPs, as there is often a need for both acute and chronic medical care for inmates.

Average Earnings for Graduates of This Program

Graduates of HBCU nurse practitioner programs can anticipate earning from $97,606 to over $111,000 annually. As the chart below shows, there are different sources from which you can obtain statistics about earning potential. By evaluating the information in the chart, we see that the average per hour rate is $51.04, making the monthly average $8,846.00 and the annual average $106,157.

Website Per Hour Per Month Per Year $52.42 $9,090 $109,025
PayScale $46.93 $8,130 $97,606
BLS $53.77 $9,320 $111,840

Job Market for Graduates of This Program

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the demand for nurse practitioners to increase by thirty-one percent annually through 2026. Factors such as an aging population and increased awareness regarding the importance of preventive care measures are just a few reasons why the stability of the job market for graduates of this program appears favorable.


There are many excellent programs available, like the best HBCU nurse practitioner programs for 2022 we have featured in this article. If your dream is to become a nurse practitioner, there is no time like the present. Take advantage of this moment and start pursuing your dream and professional goals!


Is admission to an HBCU nurse practitioner program limited only to African American students?

Although HBCUs were initially founded to provide access to college education options for African American students, today, they are more inclusive. It is estimated that approximately twenty-five percent of students enrolled at HBCUs are non-Black students.

Is it harder to get into an HBCU nurse practitioner program than a non-HBCU program?

The average acceptance rate for prospective students at HBCUs is sixty percent. While HBCUs are not impossible to get into, this acceptance rate indicates applicants are expected to meet specific criteria and not rely on being a member of a minority group as a guarantee of admission.

Do HBCUs offer online-only nurse practitioner programs?

Like non-HBCUs, there are Historically Black Colleges and Universities that offer online-only NP programs. Additionally, some offer hybrid courses, which are a combination of classroom and online experiences throughout their program. As technology continues to advance, and with recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it should be no surprise that both HBCU's and non-HBCUs will begin to offer more flexibility with the addition of more online programs.

Is there a big difference between the number of African American students who graduate from HBCU versus Non-HBCU nurse practitioner programs?

In 2020, seven percent of MSN-FNP and twelve percent of DNP-FNP graduates of HBCU nurse practitioner programs were African American. Although the nursing programs offer outstanding academic preparation and faculty support, there is still an overwhelming difference in the number of students who graduate NP programs at HBCUs versus non-HBCUs.

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.