18 Best Oncology Nurse Practitioner Programs – 2023
Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
With an aging U.S. population and increased occurrence of both acute and chronic illnesses and diseases, it is no surprise that the demand for healthcare providers with specialty skills is increasing as well. If you are a registered nurse considering a change in your job role or wanting to advance in a specialty where there is a need for more practitioners, an oncology nurse practitioner program could be just what you are looking for. Oncology nurse practitioner programs are among subspecialties that nurse practitioner students or currently practicing nurse practitioners can choose and provide care for a target group of clients. Throughout this article, you will find information about the best oncology nurse practitioner programs for 2023. You will learn about the programs' goals, how much they cost, and information about the specialty courses included in their curriculum.
What Is the Goal of an Oncology Nurse Practitioner Program?
The primary goal of oncology nurse practitioner programs is to prepare advanced practice nurses for leadership roles in delivering care to oncology patients and their loved ones. The programs provide students with instruction on methods to manage the psychosocial and physical needs of clients who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families.
Top 8 Benefits of Oncology Nurse Practitioner Programs
If you are thinking of becoming an oncology nurse practitioner, knowing the benefits of the program and what to expect after graduating is important. The following list gives eight of the top benefits of oncology nurse practitioner programs for you to consider.
1. You will learn skills that allow you to help patients and their families during times when it is most needed.
There is much more to being an oncology nurse practitioner than giving medications and monitoring for treatment effectiveness. A cancer diagnosis affects the patient and everyone who cares for them. In an oncology nurse practitioner program, you will learn the skills necessary to provide care to your clients and their loved ones in what could be the most critical time of their lives.
2. Earn the respect of patients, families, and colleagues.
Cancer is a dreaded disease. It knows no boundaries when it comes to age, race, or gender. Not everyone is cut out to be an oncology nurse practitioner. Healthcare professionals and laypeople alike realize that the nurses who complete oncology nurse practitioner programs are unique and extremely dedicated. Because of this, they have significant respect for oncology NPs.
3. You can choose the population foci that most interests you.
As with other nursing specialties and sub-specialties, oncology nurse practitioners can choose to work with clients of all ages or select a specific patient population. For example, graduates of oncology nurse practitioner programs may work in Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Sexual Health, Gastroenterology, or Neurology, to name a few.
4. You will have the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals who can help you develop expert skills.
The faculty who teaches oncology nurse practitioner students have years of clinical and academic experience. They are a great source of knowledge and skills available to help eager learners prepare to take on the role of an oncology NP.
5. Many job opportunities.
Even with efforts to prevent cancer and advances in cancer treatment, there is still a great need for oncology nurse practitioners. The anticipated increase in new cancer cases and the need for continued monitoring and survivorship care means as an oncology NP you should have ample opportunity to find a job that is the perfect fit for you.
6. Enjoy a more flexible schedule.
People need medical care at various times of the day and night, and that illness does not recognize weekends or holidays. However, nurse practitioners often enjoy a more flexible schedule than their registered nurse colleagues. If you are offered a position as an oncology NP, you may be able to negotiate a schedule that aligns with your personal and professional goals.
7. Oncology nurse practitioner programs give you an opportunity for personal and professional growth.
As an oncology NP student, you will learn the professional skills necessary to provide hands-on care, but that is not all. You will also experience personal growth as you develop relationships with faculty, peers, and patients.
8. Competitive Salary Opportunities:
The nurse practitioner industry is a financially competitive field. As indicated in a chart found later in this article, PayScale.com indicates oncology nurse practitioners earn approximately $101,240
annually. That’s nearly $40,000 more than registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree.
How Long Are Oncology Nurse Practitioner Programs?
Oncology nurse practitioner programs, fellowships, and residencies can take six months to three years to complete. Residencies and fellowships typically take less time, usually six to twelve months. Other programs such as Master- or Doctorate-level nurse practitioner programs that offer an oncology subspecialty may take two to four years. Post-Masters/Post-Graduate certificate programs usually take four or five semesters.
The following are examples of how long a few of the oncology nurse practitioner programs mentioned in this article take to complete.
University of Miami Health System
offers a Hematology/Oncology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship dedicated to educating, mentoring, and training qualified leaders in the field of Hematology-Oncology. Participants in the fellowship complete rotations in various clinical settings, including inpatient and outpatient settings. The fellowship spans twelve months
, during which fellows receive full employee benefits, including two weeks of paid vacation.
The Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist- Oncology program at the
University of California San Francisco
is a post-master's certificate program. The program is designed to be completed in as few as four semesters, although some students may take longer.
MultiCare Regional Cancer Center
offers an Advanced Practice Provider Oncology Residency available to physician assistants and advanced registered nurse practitioners. This residency, one of our featured oncology nurse practitioner programs, provides participants the mentorship and combined didactic and clinical exposure to prepare them for careers as expert oncology healthcare providers. The six-month residency
includes rotations in all oncology-related services, including oncology pathology, oncology pharmacy, nutritional services, physical therapy, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, and palliative care.
How Much Do Oncology Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?
The cost of oncology nurse practitioner programs varies depending on program type. For instance, prospective students can choose from BSN to MSN, BSN to DNP, or MSN to DNP nurse practitioner programs, post-master’s certificate programs, or may choose an oncology nurse practitioner fellowship or residency. Students involved in a fellowship or residency program typically have no tuition fees. Instead, participants are usually offered a stipend/salary and may be offered full-time employee benefits, as well. Students enrolled in non-fellowship/resident programs may be from $20,000 to over $100,000 for their degree.
The list below indicates the cost of some of the oncology nurse practitioner programs featured in this article.
Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
offers a post-graduate Nurse Practitioner Hematology/Medical Oncology Fellowship opportunity. The one-year fellowship includes a curriculum that consists of in-class learning, research, and mentored clinical practicum rotations. Admission to the fellowship is competitive, as only four fellows are accepted yearly. Fellowship participants are given a stipend paid biweekly throughout the twelve-month program. The fellowship position is eligible for a benefits package, including the option to cover a spouse and dependents as well as a continuing medical education stipend. Additionally, fellows are issued a laptop for use while in the program that is returned upon graduation.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
gives students enrolled in the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program the opportunity to add an oncology focus to their degree plan. The Master of Science in Nursing Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program requires twenty-three credit hours. Students are admitted to the AG-PCNP advanced practice program then complete four additional credits of oncology-specific coursework to earn the sub-specialty. The cost of the program is $9,666.98 per semester for North Carolina residents and $18,529.98 for non-resident students. It typically takes six semesters to complete the AG-Primary Care Nurse Practitioner with Oncology Focus. The cost of the program averages $58,001.88 to $111,179.88
, depending on residency. These rates include tuition and fees and are based on full-time enrollment.
Texas Christian University
offers a Post-Graduate Oncology Certificate program. The program includes eleven credit hours, including three didactic courses, two preceptor-supervised practicums, and one residency course. Students can choose to complete the Palliative and End of Life Care course, which awards four additional credit hours. The tuition rate per credit hour at TCU is $1,970, making the program cost $21,670 to $29,550
, depending on whether the option Palliative and End of Life Care class is taken. This estimated cost is excluding books, fees, and other incidental expenses students may incur.
What Is the Curriculum Like?
Unlike nurse practitioner programs that focus on general areas such as Adult-Gerontology Acute Care, Family, or Pediatric nurse practitioner programs, oncology is considered a nurse practitioner sub-specialty. Oncology nurse practitioner programs are often offered in conjunction with a master's or doctorate nursing program in which the student has chosen a concentration of study and takes additional courses to add the oncology specialization. Additionally, the program may be in the form of a post-master's/post-graduate certificate program, a fellowship, or residency, which award certificates upon completion.
Some coursework in oncology nurse practitioner programs typically includes Cancer Biology and Epidemiology, Psychology and the Cancer Patient, Cancer Prevention, Interventional Radiology, and End of Life/Palliative Care. The following are examples of coursework included in some of the oncology NP programs discussed in this article.
Students currently enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at
have the option to choose an oncology subspecialty with adult or pediatric population foci. Students who hold an undergraduate nursing degree or master’s degree students must be pursuing a family, acute care, pediatric, or psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner degree.
Graduates of the Adult Oncology Nurse Practitioner Program at Columbia University are eligible for certification through the AANP or ANCC and are prepared to obtain certification by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation as an Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner.
Pediatric Oncology Nurse Practitioner program graduates are eligible for certification through the NCBPNP/N or ANCC. Additionally, after completing the required clinical hours, they can apply to obtain certification from the ONCC as a Certified Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Nurse.
Adult Oncology Curriculum:
◦ Principles and Practice of Oncology I & II
◦ Cancer Symptom Management
◦ Practicum for Cancer Symptom Management
Pediatric Oncology Curriculum:
◦ Principles and Practice of Oncology I
◦ Cancer in Childhood
◦ Cancer Symptom Management
◦ Practicum for Cancer Symptom Management
oncology nurse practitioner program includes coursework and clinical experiences designed to prepare for entry-level positions as an Oncology Nurse Practitioner. The oncology-specific courses are integrated within the curriculum for the Nurse Practitioner major. To earn the Oncology Specialty Professional Certificate, students must complete nine credit hours of specialty coursework and two hundred twenty-four (224) hours of clinical practice in oncology settings. The clinical practicum experiences include Inpatient Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Outpatient Clinics, Stem Cell Transplant, Brain Tumor Centers, and Survivorship Clinics.
Didactic content for the oncology nurse practitioner specialty includes concepts of cancer prevention, disease treatment, cancer epidemiology, and pathophysiology. Students also learn methods of symptom management, palliative care for the cancer patient, and survivorship.
Required Oncology Specialty Courses:
◦ Advanced Practice Nursing: Oncology Specialty I & II (3 credits each)
◦ Advanced Practice Nursing in Oncology Specialty Synthesis (3 credits)
offers two options for oncology nurse practitioner programs. The Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner with Oncology specialization
, designed as a BSN to DNP with oncology focus, can be completed in seventy-two semesters (6 years). The DNP with an Oncology specialty consists of seventy-two semester hours. The university also offers an online Oncology Nursing Certificate
program designed for registered nurses who possess a minimum baccalaureate degree in nursing. To earn the Oncology Nursing Certificates, students must complete nine oncology-specific semester hours.
Oncology Nursing Certificate Curriculum:
◦ Cancer Biology and Epidemiology
◦ Diagnostic and Therapeutic Approaches
◦ Palliative/Supportive Management
A-G PCNP with Oncology Specialization Curriculum:
◦ In addition to completing required DNP coursework, students who choose the Oncology Specialization also take:
1. Cancer Biology and Epidemiology
2. Diagnostic and Therapeutic Approaches
3. Palliative/Supportive Management
4. Oncology Care Practicum
University of Alabama at Birmingham
offers a summer-entry MSN with Oncology Nurse Practitioner Sub-Specialty. The program is designed to accommodate working nurses and, therefore, delivers courses through a distance-learning format. Like many oncology nurse practitioner programs, the curriculum combines online classes with on-campus intensives, which include planned laboratory and simulation experiences.
◦ Advanced Practice Nursing for Oncology Care
◦ Cancer Assessment, Diagnosis, and Management
◦ The Effects of Cancer and Cancer Therapies
◦ Oncology Nurse Practitioner Practicum I, II, and III
The Comprehensive Cancer Center at
Ohio State University
is home to another featured oncology nurse practitioner fellowship. The Oncology and Acute Care Fellowship Program for Advanced Practice Providers (APP) provides fellowship participants the chance to obtain the knowledge and first-hand clinical experience specific to oncology and critical care patients. The one-year fellowship includes didactic and clinical studies covering the continuum of cancer care. Participants develop core knowledge related to oncology, preparing them to practice independently as oncology nurse practitioners.
Didactic and Clinical Study Include:
◦ Prevention and Early Detection of Cancer
◦ Active Cancer Treatment
◦ Continuum of Care
◦ End-of-Life Care
What Are the Admission Requirements?
The admission criteria for oncology nurse practitioner programs may vary, depending on the type of program a school offers. For example, some schools may offer a post-master's or post-graduate certificate with oncology specialization. In contrast, others may have oncology nurse practitioner programs offered as an addition to a nurse practitioner major.
Typical admission requirements for most oncology nurse practitioner programs include the following.
◦ Possess an active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse
◦ Submit letters of professional recommendation which indicate the applicant’s potential for success in a graduate program (two or three are usually required)
◦ Provide a Personal Statement of Goals
◦ Submit professional resume and/or curriculum vitae
◦ Submit sealed official transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended
The following are the admission requirements for some of the oncology NP programs discussed in this article.
Azusa Pacific University
prepares students in its oncology nurse practitioner program to provide high-quality care to cancer patients and their families across the span of the illness. Students learn to address patients' psychosocial and physiologic needs through a program that emphasizes screening, diagnosing, monitoring, staging, and team building.
◦ Master’s degree in nursing from an accredited institution
◦ Master’s program must have included classes in pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and advanced pharmacology
◦ One year experience working in oncology nursing
◦ Current California Nurse Practitioner license
University of South Florida
offers another one of this article’s featured oncology nurse practitioner programs. The BSN to DNP program follows a course sequence and standard plan for students who choose part-time or full-time enrollment. The program is formatted as an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care/Oncology Nursing program. Graduates are prepared to take the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certifying Board (AANPCB) or American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Certification Examination. Additionally, graduates are eligible to sit for the Advanced Oncology Certified NP examination administered by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation.
◦ Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an ACEN or CCNE accredited institution
◦ Cumulative grade of “B” on all undergraduate nursing coursework
◦ Complete an undergraduate statistics course work three credit hours with a minimum grade of “B”
◦ Have at least one year of previous/current oncology nursing experience before matriculation in the program to meet professional clinical practice requirements
, students currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program can specialize with an oncology concentration. The program aims to provide students with a foundation of knowledge necessary to provide advanced nursing care to adults with cancer. Although nurse practitioner students in most concentrations may apply for the oncology specialization, students in the Psychiatric-Mental Health NP, Pediatric Primary Care NP, and Pediatric Acute Care NP must obtain special permission before applying. Additionally, the oncology specialization is not available to students currently enrolled in the Nurse-Midwifery/Women's Health and Nurse-Midwifery nurse practitioner concentrations.
◦ Submit two short answer essays (topics provided)
◦ Non-native English speakers must demonstrate English proficiency by submitting IELTS or TOEFL scores.
◦ Minimum 3.0-grade point average on all undergraduate coursework
◦ Applicants whose undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0 must take the GRE
MD Anderson Cancer Center
offers a twelve-month post-graduate Oncology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship. The fellowship is accredited with distinction as a Practice Transition Program by the ANCC’s Commission on Accreditation.
Fellowship Eligibility Criteria:
◦ Possess a minimum clinical master’s degree in nursing from an accredited nursing program
◦ Have a current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse by the Texas Board of Nursing
◦ APRN license issued by the Texas Board of Nursing in one of the following concentrations: Adult, Acute Care, Adult-Gerontology, or Family Nurse Practitioner before the fellowship’s start date
The Post-Master's Adult Oncology Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program at
is open to master’s-prepared nurses with national certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, or Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. To earn the Adult Oncology NP certificate, students must complete twelve credit hours, including five hundred clinical hours. Graduates who complete an additional five hundred clinical hours outside the program curriculum (1,000 total clinical hours) are eligible to sit for the Adult Oncology Nurse Practitioner certification examination administered by the Oncology Nurse Certification Corporation
Admission Requirements Include:
◦ Possess current certification as an Adult-Gerontology, Women’s Health, or Family Nurse Practitioner
◦ Graduate from a nationally accredited Master of Science in Nursing program with a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average
◦ Show documentation of successful completion of a graduate or undergraduate course in Statistics and Health Assessment
◦ Provide proof of completion of graduate Nursing Research course
BELOW ARE THE 17 MOST POPULAR ONCOLOGY NURSE PRACTITIONER PROGRAMS FOR 2023
(The following Certificates, Fellowships, Residency, and Degree Programs are ideal for individuals who aspire to become an Oncology Nurse Practitioner.)
DNP (Sub-Specialty in Oncology)
Professional Certificate (Oncology Specialty)
Certificate (Oncology Nurse Practitioner)
4. Loyola University Chicago - Chicago, IL
Program Type: BSN to DNP
(Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP with Oncology specialty) and Certificate
5. University of South Florida - Tampa, FL
Program Type: BSN to DNP
(Oncology Nursing/Adult-Gerontology Primary Care)
6. University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing - Philadelphia, PA
Program Type: MSN
(Pediatric Acute Care NP - Oncology Concentration), Post-Graduate APRN Certificate
(Pediatric - Oncology Concentration), and Certificate
(Adult Oncology Specialty)
MSN (Subspecialty in Oncology Nurse Practitioner)
MSN (Oncology Concentration)
Post Graduate Fellowship in Oncology Nursing
Oncology and Acute Critical Care Fellowship
Post Master’s Certificate (Adult Oncology Nurse Practitioner)
Oncology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship
Hematology/Medical Oncology Fellowship
Fellowship (Hematology/Oncology Graduate Nurse Practitioner)
Program Type: Post-Master’s Certificate
(Clinical Nurse Specialist Specialties - AG CNS -Oncology)
MSN (Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) - OncologyFocus)
Advanced Practitioner Provider Oncology Residency
What Kinds of Career Opportunities Exist for Oncology Nurse Practitioners?
Graduates of oncology nurse practitioner programs can choose from diverse career opportunities across a wide variety of settings. A few examples of career opportunities for oncology NPs include the following.
• Pediatric Oncology Nurse Practitioner:
Oncology NPs who choose to work in pediatrics typically care for clients who are 18 years old or younger. (In some places, 21 years old may be the cut-off age for pediatric patients.) This position requires caring for children who have been diagnosed with cancer. Some patients may be in treatment, while others may be in remission and are given follow-up care and screenings.
• Radiology Oncology Nurse Practitioner:
Radiology oncology nurse practitioners monitor and manage the effects radiation has on their clients during and after treatment. This job requires the NP to order tests, lab work, and scans, provide follow-up care to ensure the patient remains in recovery and is moving forward with their plan of care.
• Blood and Bone Marrow Nurse Practitioner:
Nurse practitioners in this position provide comprehensive care to patients in Hematology/Oncology settings. Some job responsibilities include assessment of psychosocial and physical needs, patient and family education, the administration of immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and blood products. Blood and bone marrow NPs evaluate their client's responses to interventions and implements changes in the plan of care, as needed.
• Sexual Health Oncology Nurse Practitioner:
The sexual health oncology nurse practitioner collaborates with urologists and gynecologists. This role involves performing clinical responsibilities, including evaluating, treating, counseling, and educating cancer patients
Average Salary for Oncology Nurse Practitioners
Oncology nurse practitioner programs can be the catalyst that puts advanced practice nurse practitioners on the trajectory for significant income earning potential. The average annual income for oncology nurse practitioners in the United States is a little over $101,000. Some NPs in this specialty earn higher wages, especially as they gain additional clinical experience. When applying for a job as an oncology nurse practitioner, one thing to consider is whether the potential employer offers a benefits package in addition to the salary. A good benefits package
for nurse practitioners typically includes retirement benefits, insurance options including health, life, dental, disability, and malpractice, paid vacation and sick days, and funds for continuing education.
|Per Hour||$48.69 |
|Per Year||$101,280 |
Job Outlook for Oncology Nurse Practitioners
Oncology nurse practitioners are vital members of the healthcare delivery team providing cancer treatment in both inpatient and outpatient settings. According to the National Cancer Institute
, approximately 1.9 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the United States. There are more than 325,000 nurse practitioners in the United States, and only 1.2 percent (3,900) specialize in oncology. The number of anticipated new cancer cases alone compared to the number of oncology nurse practitioners is the equivalent of one oncology NP to every four hundred eighty-eight (488) patients! Keep in mind, this is not including the patients who have already been diagnosed, whether they are inactive treatment or remission. These statistics alone demonstrate the outlook for potential jobs for graduates of oncology nurse practitioner programs could be staggering.
Cancer is a leading cause of death among adults in the United States. Having dedicated, well-qualified healthcare providers can help improve the quality of life for patients and their loved ones. The best oncology nurse practitioner programs for 2023 featured in this article offer nurses like you the chance to join the elite team of oncology care providers and make a difference in the lives of people affected by this dreaded disease.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT
After graduating from an oncology nurse practitioner program, how do I get certified?
If you are a nurse practitioner specializing in oncology, certification is an excellent way to demonstrate your competence and distinguish yourself as having the necessary skills to care for cancer patients. The Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse Practitioner (AOCNP) Certification
is the most recognized credential for oncology nurse practitioners. To become certified, you must successfully complete a 165-question multiple-choice examination that covers eleven oncology-specific subject areas.
Do all oncology nurse practitioner programs cost a lot of money?
The short answer is, "No." All oncology NP programs do not cost a lot of money. As mentioned in the above article, oncology nurse practitioner residencies and fellowship programs typically do not charge tuition. Instead, participants in these programs are usually offered full-time employee benefits while in the program and earning their degree or certificate.
Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Best Nurse Practitioner Schools in Your State
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).