What are the 12 Best Nurse Practitioner Programs in Illinois (Online & Campus) for 2020?


1) University Of St. Francis-Illinois - Joliet


Programs Offered: MSN (MSN & RN (ADN) to MSN) and Post Master’s Certificate

The University of St. Francis is a small Catholic university in suburban Chicago that’s open to students of all faiths. “U. S. News & World Report” ranks USF’s Leach School highly; its MSN program and DNP programs are among the top 200 in the U.S. Two NP programs are associated with the University of St. Francis’s master’s of nursing science program. The same two NP specialties can also be pursued in conjunction with a post-master’s certificate concentration.

MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

USF’s MSN program is only open to residents of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, or Wisconsin. The Family Nurse Practitioner track consists of 47 to 56-semester credits and is taught completely online. The Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner also requires 47 to 56 credits.

Post Master’s Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

The University of St. Francis’s Post-Master’s Certificate Concentrations are designed for nurses who already have their MSNs and who are interested in developing new clinical competencies. The Family Nurse Practice advanced certificate entails 29-38 semester credits while the Psychiatric-Mental Health advanced certificate involves 31-semester credits.

2) Rush University - Chicago


Programs Offered: DNP, Postgraduate Certificate, and Postdoctoral Certificate

Rush University’s School of Nursing started out in 1903 as a diploma training school for health care providers working at Presbyterian Hospital, which is the teaching facility associated with Rush University. The Rush nursing practice model, which stresses patient-centric, holistic care, is a popular model for nursing education in nursing schools across the nation. Rush is not only one of the best nurse practitioner programs in Illinois, it’s also been singled out as among the best in the nation. The university offers seven NP tracks, which students can take while they’re pursuing their Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. In addition, Rush offers two NP tracks as postgraduate certificates and one as a postdoctoral certificate.

DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

DNP class sizes are small so that students can develop close relationships with their instructors and their nursing colleagues. All specialty tracks require students to complete a minimum of 62-semester credits.

The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care advance practice specialty takes 2 to 3.5 years to complete; the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care advance practice specialty takes 2 to 3.5 years to complete. Coursework is taught using a hybrid format that blends online learning with campus classes. Both tracks are designed to be pursued part-time initially but full-time during the final year. “U.S. News & World Report” has dubbed Rush’s Adult-Gerontology Acute Care track the second-best of its kind in the nation.

The Family Nurse Practitioner track can be pursued full-time or part-time. Academic coursework can be delivered online, but clinical rotations are all scheduled for health care centers in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, so students must live locally. “U.S. News & World Report” ranks this program the third best of its kind in the U.S.

“U.S. News & World Report” has honored Rush’s Psychiatric-Mental Health advance practice specialty as the number one program of its kind in the country. The program can be pursued full-time or part-time, and coursework utilizes a distance learning format. The Neonatal advance practice specialty is only offered online and can only be pursued part-time. Both specialties take between 2.5 and 3.5 years to complete.

Both the Acute Care and Primary Care Pediatric advanced practice specialties are part-time programs. The Primary Care track takes between 2 and 3.5 years to complete while the Acute Care track takes between 2 and 3.7 years to complete. The Primary Care Pediatric track has been singled out by “U.S. News & World Report” as the second-best program of its sort in the U.S.

Postgraduate Certificate Concentrations: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

Rush’s postgraduate certificate concentrations are designed for advance practice nurses who are seeking to expand their knowledge and skills by acquiring a new clinical specialty. The Acute Care Pediatric specialty involves 12-semester credits, which can be completed in eight months through a part-time course of study. The Neonatal specialty involves 27 credits and takes two years of part-time study to complete. The Psychiatric-Mental Health track requires 18-semester units.

Postdoctoral Certificate Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care

DNP- and Ph.D.-prepared nurses who want to expand their scope of practice have the option of doing so through Rush’s postdoctoral Adult-Gerontology Acute Care certificate program. It’s a hybrid program that requires a fulltime commitment during clinical rotations, which take place during the last term. The program typically takes 1 to 1.5 years to complete.

3) University Of Illinois At Chicago - Chicago


Programs Offered: Post-Master’s DNP and Post-DNP Certificate

The University of Illinois at Chicago has more nurse practitioner programs than any other school in the Prairie State. Applicants can choose among several Illinois NP programs in conjunction with the post-master’s DNP track and as post-DNP certificate. The university’s Chicago campus is located right in the heart of the famous Illinois Medical District. “U.S. News & World Report” considers UIC’s DNP program the best in the Midwest and the sixth best in the nation. The magazine singled out UIC’s Adult-Gerontology Acute and Primary Care specialty tracks for special praise.

Post-Master’s DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery / Women's Health Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

“U.S. News & World Report” touts UIC’s DNP program as the sixth finest in the nation. Coursework associated with UIC’s DNP-related nurse practitioner specialties is offered in a hybrid format that blends online and campus classes. Students enrolled in the BSN to DNP track typically take three to five years to complete the program while students who enter the program with an MSN take two to four years.

Toward the end of the program, students participate in a DNP project that showcases their ability to translate evidence-based science into clinical practice within the specialty they’ve chosen. The university arranges clinical rotations.

The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care specialties each require 77 credits. The Family Nurse Practice specialty, which “U.S. News & World Report” ranks number 11 of its kind in the nation, requires 79 credits. You must take 82 credits to complete the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner specialty and 97 to finish the Nurse-Midwifery / Women's Health Nurse Practitioner specialty. The Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner specialty entails 87 credits while the Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, which “U.S. News & World Report” also ranks number 11 in the nation, consists of 85 credits.

Post-DNP Certificate Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner,Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

UIC’s Post-DNP Certificate concentrations are designed for nurse practitioners with Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees who want to become credentialed in a new specialty. Required classes are offered in a hybrid format that blends online and campus classroom learning. Both the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practice and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practice tracks require 77 credits and 1,000 clinical hours; 675 of those clinical hours must be in an Adult-Gerontology specialty. The other certificate NP tracks have requirements similar to the specific specialty requirements in the DNP program.

4) Lewis University - Romeoville


Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate

Lewis University is another one of those nurse practitioner schools in Illinois that was founded by members of the Catholic Church. Many of the university’s MSN and DNP options are offered online so that they’ll be convenient for working nurses. Four NP specializations are available to Lewis students, either in conjunction with the university’s MSN program or as Post-Master’s Certificate Concentrations.

MSN Concentrations: Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP), Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Lewis will accept nurses without BSN degrees into its MSN program, but these nurses must have taken core nursing classes equivalent to BSN core classes. Nurses participating in the Adult Gerontology Acute Care and Primary Care Practice tracks must complete 46 credits and 540 clinical hours. For the Family Nurse Practice specialty, you’ll need to complete 48 credits 630 clinical hours and for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practice specialty, 49 credits and 540 clinical hours.

Post-Master’s Certificate Concentrations: Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Lewis’s non-degree certificate programs were developed for nurses and other health care professionals who want to expand their clinical competencies. The Primary and Acute Adult Gerontology NP specialties require 30 hours. The Family Nurse specialty entails 30 credits, and the Psychiatric Mental Health specialty involves 31 credits.

5) Southern Illinois University Edwardsville - Edwardsville


Programs Offered: BSN to DNP, Post-Master's DNP, and Post-Master's Certificate

Like many states in the U.S., Illinois faces a looming nursing shortage across all specialties, and one of the primary goals of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s School of Nursing is to increase the number of nurses who live and work in the Prairie State. The BSN to DNP track offers two NP specializations while the post-master’s DNP track offers one specialization.

BSN to DNP Concentrations: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner

Applicants to this DNP program must have either a baccalaureate or master’s degree in nursing. The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specialty is a 62-credit program while the Family Nurse Practitioner is a 66-credit program. The FNP program is offered in a hybrid format; the majority of coursework will be offered online, but students will be expected to attend periodic campus immersion experiences.

Post-Master's DNP Concentrations: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specialty at the Edwardsville School of Nursing is only open to Family Nurse Practitioners who already have an MSN. The three-year program involves 43-semester credits and 540 clinical hours.

Post-Master's Certificate Concentrations: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Applicants to Southern Illinois University’s Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practice Certificate Concentration must be certified as Family Nurse Practitioners. The program utilizes a hybrid format in which students augment online learning with occasional campus intensives. Students must take 19 credits and participate in 540 clinical hours in order to complete this program.

6) Illinois State University - Normal


Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Master's Certificate

The Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University in Normal was founded as a diploma school in 1919 to supply nursing staff to nearby Mennonite Hospital. In 1999, the college became affiliated with Illinois State University. This nurse practitioner school in Illinois offers one NP specialty, which students can take either in conjunction with an MSN degree or as a post-master’s certificate.

MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

The Family Nurse Practitioner sequence associated with the university’s MSN program is a 44-hour curriculum that blends online and campus classwork.

Post-Master's Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

The university’s post-masters FNP certificate program is open to students who’ve already earned an MSN and who are interested in expanding their scope of practice. Individual study plans will be developed on the basis of classes students have already taken. In order to complete this program, students will need to log 26-semester credits.

7) Depaul University - Chicago


Programs Offered: RN to MSN, DNP and Post-Master’s Certificates

If you want to become a nurse practitioner in Illinois, DePaul University offers two advanced specialty programs in conjunction with its RN to MSN and DNP concentrations. These same two programs are also offered as post-master’s certificate options. DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the U.S. by enrolment but accepts students of all faiths. The school is committed to educating nurses who will assume leadership roles in the provision of health care.

RN to MSN Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner

DePaul accepts nurses who don’t yet hold BSNs into its MSN program, but these students will need to complete bridge classes that satisfy the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s core requirements. The Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practice specialty requires 42 credits while the Family Nurse Practice entails 44 credits. The track typically takes between two to four years to complete. All didactic coursework is offered online.

DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner

Pending a review of transcripts, MSN-prepared nurses have the option of transferring 12 credits from their previous coursework when they enroll in DePaul’s DNP program. The advance practice core for the Adult-Gerontology Nurse specialty consists of 52 credits with an additional eight credits allocated to DNP practicums. The advance practice core for the Family Nurse Practice specialty consists of 54 credits with an additional eight credits allocated to DNP practicums.

Post-Master’s Certificate Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner

Are you a registered nurse with an MSN looking for a way to enhance your clinical competencies? DePaul’s post-master’s certificate track may be what you’re looking for. You can opt to take classes online or at DePaul’s campus in Lincoln Park. The Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner certificate specialty is a 44-credit program while the Family Nurse Practitioner certificate specialty is a 46-credit program.

8) Saint Xavier University - Chicago


Programs Offered: MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate

The National League of Nursing has recognized Saint Xavier University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences as a Center of Excellence. Saint Xavier is a private Catholic research university, but it welcomes students from many different religious and cultural backgrounds. This online nurse practitioner program in Illinois offers one NP specialty both as part of its MSN program and as part of its standalone certificate track.

MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

Saint Xavier’s FNP program is delivered entirely in a distance learning format. Students are required to complete 600 hours at practice sites such as inpatient health care facilities and outpatient clinics. Clinical rotations are scheduled in the locations where students live or work, but the university does assist students in securing clinical rotations. The program is designed to be completed in three years of full-time attendance.

Post-Master’s Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

Saint Xavier’s post-master’s certificate program is open to MSN-prepared nurses who want to expand their scope of practice. Each student’s plan of study will be customized according to an analysis of the student’s previous graduate-level coursework and the requirements for FNP certification in the state of Illinois.

9) Loyola University Chicago - Maywood


Programs Offered: MSN, BSN-DNP, and Post-Graduate APRN Certificate

The Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing is located on Loyola University’s Health Sciences Campus in Chicago’s Maywood suburb alongside the Loyola University Medical Center, the Ronald McDonald Children's Hospital, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center and Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine. Loyola is another one of the Prairie State’s many Catholic institutions of higher learning, and like the others, it admits students from a variety of faith backgrounds. Loyola offers four NP specializations in conjunction with its master’s of nursing science degree and in conjunction with its advance practice certificate program. Three of these NP specializations are also offered as BSN to DNP concentrations.

MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner

All four NP specialties associated with Loyola’s MSN program include online coursework as well as face-to-face classes. Applicants must have current Illinois RN licenses. The FNP specialty entails 50 to 53 credits; the AGACNP specialty, 48 credits; the AGPCNP specialty, 43 to 46 credits; and the WHNP, 46 credits. All NP programs associated with Loyola’s NP track are designed to be completed in three years.

BSN-DNP Concentrations: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

In order to be admitted into Loyola’s BSN-DNP program, you must have a minimum of 2,000 hours of recent clinical experience. The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program offers a subspecialty in Substance Use and Addictions and entails the completion of 72-semester credits. The Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program, which also consists of 72-semester credits, is associated with an Oncology subspecialty. Loyola’s Family Nurse Practitioner program provides a subspecialty in Emergency Room practice and involves the completion of 79-semester credits.

Post-Graduate APRN Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Women's Health Nurse Practitioner, and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Loyola’s post-graduate APRN certificate tracks are intended to allow MSN-prepared nurses gain clinical expertise in a new field of NP practice. After a nurse is accepted into the program, the Program Director will perform a gap analysis comparing that nurse’s previous academic and clinical experience with the certification requirements for his or her chosen area of specialization, and an individualized study plan will be prepared on the basis of that gap analysis.

10) Bradley University - Peoria


Programs Offered: RN (ADN) to MSN, BSN to MSN, BSN to DNP and Post-Master's Certificate

“U.S. News & World Report” calls Bradley University a great school for a great price. Aspiring Family Nurse Practitioners in Illinois can prepare for certification in their chosen specialty as part of an innovative ADN (associate degree in nursing) to MSN program, as part of a BSN to MSN program or as part of a BSN to DNP program. Bradley also offers a post-master’s certificate NP that will enable you to sit for the qualifying exam. All of Bradley’s advanced practice options are offered 100 percent online with no campus residency requirements.

RN (ADN) to MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

When it’s incorporated into the MSN track, Bradley’s Family Nurse Practitioner specialty requires 59-semester credits. Some of those credits will be core classes equivalent to what you would have taken had you gone for a BSN degree. You will also be responsible for completing 750 clinical hours scheduled over five clinical rotations. Most students are able to complete this program within 10 semesters.

BSN to MSN Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

Bradley also offers the FNP specialty in conjunction with its BSN to MSN program. To complete this track, you will need to commit to 50-semester credits and 700 clinical hours.

BSN to DNP Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

When taken in conjunction with Bradley’s BSN to DNP option, the Family Nurse Practice specialty will take four years to complete. One thousand clinical hours are associated with this track.

Post-Master's Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

Bradley’s Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate track requires 35-semester credits and can be completed in five semesters. Like Bradley’s graduate NP programs, certificate coursework is presented in an asynchronous online format so that students can progress at their own pace.

11) Northern Illinois University - Dekalb


Programs Offered: MSN, BSN-DNP, MSN-DNP, and Post Master’s Certificates

Northern Illinois University’s NP programs are mostly conducted through online distance learning though certain experiences require campus attendance. NIU’s online graduate nursing programs are approved in all states except California, but it is the responsibility of each individual student to make sure that specific certification requirements in his or her state of residence have been met. The university offers two NP specialties as MSN and BSN-DNP tracks, and one NP specialty as both a BSN-DNP concentration and as a Post-Master’s Certificate.

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

NIU’s MSN-related FNP program uses a hybrid learning format: Most of its 50 credits of coursework can be tackled online, but you will need to come to the university’s campus in DeKalb for health assessment intensives, internships, and skills courses. The university’s AGPCNP program requires 49 credits and is structured in a similarly hybrid fashion. Both NP programs accommodate part-time as well as fulltime students, but you must complete your specialty within six years.

BSN-DNP Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

At the BSN-DNP level, the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty entails 76-semester credits, three FNP internships, and three DNP practicums. The Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner consists of 75-semester credits. You’ll also be responsible for completing a DNP project that will require you to address a practice issue within your chosen specialty.

MSN-DNP Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

MSN-prepared nurses have the option of pursuing an FNP specialty in conjunction with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. The requirements are similar to the requirements for the MSN-related Family Nurse Practitioner specialty.

Post-Master's Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

The Family Nurse Practitioner certificate track requires 22-semester credits. Students will need to complete advanced nursing courses in physiology/pathophysiology, pharmacology, and health assessment before they will be considered for admission.

12) Saint Anthony College Of Nursing - Rockford


Programs Offered: MSN, DNP (Post BSN to DNP & Post MSN to DNP) and Post-Master's Certificate

The Saint Anthony College of Nursing is the only one of all the nurse practitioner programs Illinois that is associated with a medical center rather than with a university or college. The college offers three NP specializations as MSN concentrations and two NP specializations as DNP concentrations. It also offers one nurse practitioner specialization that can be pursued as a post-master’s certificate concentration.

MSN Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP), Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AG-NP), and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Saint Anthony’s MSN-related NP tracks were designed for working nurses who can only pursue academic studies part-time. Each of the three tracks should take four years to complete. The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program is unique in that its acute care diagnostics and therapeutics course gives students the chance to spend 100 clinical hours learning about radiology and pharmacotherapeutics.

Post BSN to DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology PCNP, Adult-Gerontology ACNP and Family Nurse Practitioner

When taken as part of Saint Anthony’s post-BSN to DNP program, the AGPCNP, AGACNP, and FNP specialties will each take six years to complete.

Post MSN to DNP Concentrations: Adult-Gerontology PCNP, Adult-Gerontology ACNP and Family Nurse Practitioner

When taken as part of Saint Anthony’s post-BSN to DNP program, the AGPCNP, AGACNP and FNP specialties will each take four years to complete.

Post-Master's Certificate Concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner

Saint Anthony also offers a Family Nurse Practitioner program as a post-master’s certificate.