Best Online MSN-FNP Programs for 2021
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Have you considered becoming a family nurse practitioner but aren’t sure where to start? Do you want to start school but do not feel like you can attend school on-campus? If so, an online MSN-FNP program may be exactly what you are looking for. This article will discuss what an MSN-FNP is and does, what it takes to become licensed and certified, and share the 10 best online MSN-FNP programs for 2021.
What Exactly is the Goal of an MSN-FNP Program?
An MSN-FNP program aims to prepare graduate-level registered nurses to assume the role of a family nurse practitioner. After completing an MSN-FNP program, a graduate should be able to:* effectively integrate the science of nursing into a hands-on approach providing care to families using theories and concepts related to nursing, promoting a safe and effective care environment and integrate evidence, clinical judgment, research and theory to provide optimal patient care.
How Many Schools Are Currently Offering MSN-FNP Online Programs?
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, there are currently one hundred eighty online MSN-FNP programs available. One hundred thirty-three of the programs offer at least fifty percent of their courses to be taken online. Forty-seven of the programs provide one hundred percent online education.
|Programs Offering 100% Online Education|| 47|
| Programs Offering 51% to 99% Online Education||133|
| Total|| 180|
On-Campus MSN-FNP or Online MSN-FNP: Which Fits You?
Once you have decided to become a family nurse practitioner, it's time to determine if you want to pursue an online MSN-FNP degree or prefer to attend classes in person on a college campus. The following are a few things to consider when choosing to attend an on-campus or online MSN-FNP program.
Do you work better independently or prefer to learn with a group?
Both online and on-campus MSN-FNP programs require students to have dedicated time to study, even when not in the actual classroom. However, there is a bit of a difference in the flexibility of your schedule, depending on whether you learn at home or on-campus. If you are the person who seems to glean information from others, prefer to hear an instructor present content and information, or who likes to ask questions, on-campus learning may be the best option for you. On the other hand, if you are more of a visual learner and feel like reading the information for yourself and studying at your own pace is more your preferred way of learning, an online program may be more fitting.
Do you need or want to continue working?
While some people choose to take time off from their jobs while attending school, others may not want to take a leave of absence or may need the security that their income offers. Attending classes on-campus does not mean you cannot continue to work. However, many MSN-FNP students find that juggling work and study time is easier when they participate in online classes. This is, of course, a personal preference, and only you can determine what the best choice for your goals is.
How Long are Online MSN-FNP Programs?
MSN-FNP online programs typically last anywhere from fifteen to forty-eight months. Whether you enroll as a part-time or full-time student can affect the length of time it takes for you to complete a program. Additionally, if you find that you need to add additional courses or repeat any courses, your completion date could be delayed.
offers an online MSN FNP program that can be completed in approximately twenty months of full-time enrollment. The school offers six start dates each year, which means enrollment chances are increased.
offers an MSN-FNP program that is exclusively online. The amount of time it takes to complete the program depends on whether you enter with an ADN or BSN degree. Typically, ADN-to-MSN students can complete the program in as few as ten semesters. BSN-to-MSN students can complete the program in less time, typically around eight semesters.
At Monmouth University
, students will complete between 33 and 45 credit hours to achieve a Master of Science in Nursing. The university offers evening classes either exclusively online or a hybrid schedule, which alternates one week of online learning with one week of on-campus instruction. Students often complete the MSN-FNP program at Monmouth University in about eight semesters.
How Much Do Online MSN-FNP Programs Cost?
MSN-FNP online programs typically cost anywhere from $18,810 to $185,280.
Indiana State University’s
MSN-FNP program costs $419 per credit hour for in-state applicants and $541 per credit for out-of-state online learning students. Online education delivery fees of $50 per course are required of all online students. Other expenses that students may incur include program and course fees, and fees for special instruction or supervision, when needed. The MSN-FNP program at Indiana State University requires students to complete 42 credit hours of coursework, which totals just over $30,000 for required classes.
Students enrolled in Georgetown University’s
online MSN FNP program typically complete the program in twenty-one months, after successfully completing 44 credit hours. The program costs an average of $48,000.
At the University of Birmingham
, completion of the MSN FNP online program requires students to successfully complete forty-five credit hours of coursework. Students in this program participate in a distance-learning format but must participate in four on-campus intensives during the last four semesters of the program. At a rate of $659 per credit hour, students can expect to spend around $30,000 to obtain their degree.
MSN nurse practitioner pathways are designed to equip nurses with the knowledge and skills necessary to fill advanced nursing practice roles. Students in an MSN-FNP program experience education that is necessary to provide healthcare to individuals and families throughout the lifespan. Coursework includes a variety of subjects, including the following:
• Population Health and Statistical Principles:
In this course, students learn about advanced practice principles and competencies related to statistical and epidemiological components necessary to determine a foundation for patient assessments.
• Advanced Pathophysiology:
This course offers students the opportunity to learn how diseases manifest in patients throughout the lifespan and how to implement therapeutic interventions for disease risk factors.
• Advanced Assessment and Diagnosis:
This course prepares students to apply comprehensive assessment data throughout the lifespan. It includes using cognitive skills for the diagnostic reasoning process, which helps to establish appropriate patient care plans.
Additionally, the chart below gives further examples of coursework that students will complete.
| Adult/Elder Health & Family Theory|| Child/Adolescent Health & Family Theory|
| Advanced Health Assessment & Diagnostics|| Faith, Ethics, & Interprofessional Collaboration in Advanced Practice|
| Advanced Pathophysiology|| Family Health & Theory|
| Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics|| Healthcare Technologies, Teaching, and Evaluation|
| Advanced Research Methodology|| Leadership, Health Care Policy, & Economics|
| Advanced Theory in Nursing Science|| Reproductive Health & Family Theory|
| Advanced Practice Role Development|
|(Source: Harding University)|
The clinical training component of MSN-FNP online programs varies depending on state guidelines. Typically, students are required to complete from 550 to 1000 clinical hours. Some schools allow students to apply up to 500 of their BSN clinical hours toward their MSN requirement. It is vital for candidates to discuss clinical requirements and school policy regarding credit for previous hours before enrollment, rather than waiting until clinical hours need to be scheduled.
In addition to the academic courses required at Duke University’s
MSN-FNP program, students must also complete 728 hours of supervised clinical practicum.
Tampa, Florida, is home to South University’s
MSN-FNP program. After completing online coursework, students are also required to complete a minimum of 780 clinical hours in five supervised clinical practicum courses.
Admission Requirements For Online MSN-FNP Programs
Admissions requirements for MSN-FNP online degree programs vary among schools and per state guidelines. However, there are some requirements that are what most would call “standard” for most programs. For example, colleges and universities offering this program typically require the following.
• A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 grading scale for all post-secondary education courses that you wish to transfer
• Completion of an undergraduate course in statistics
• Submit official transcripts from all previously attended schools
• An active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in your state of residence
• At least three letters of reference (Most schools ask that at least one reference comes from someone holding a master’s degree or higher)
The University of Michigan
requires applicants to possess a BSN degree from a regionally accredited university or college, including an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, three or more credits in a college-level statistics course with a minimum "C" average, and an active RN license.
Following are the 10 Best Online MSN FNP Programs for 2021
1. Duke University School of Nursing - Durham, NCPrograms Offered: MSN
2. The University of Alabama at Birmingham – Birmingham, ALPrograms Offered: MSN
3. Georgetown University - Washington, DCPrograms Offered: MSN
4. Indiana State University - Terre Haute, INPrograms Offered: MSN
5. South University - Tampa, FLPrograms Offered: MSN
6. University of Michigan- Flint - Flint, MIPrograms Offered: MSN
7. Harding University - Searcy, ARPrograms Offered: MSN
8. Monmouth University - West Long Branch, NJPrograms Offered: MSN
9. Herzing University - Kenosha, WIPrograms Offered: MSN
10. Bradley University - Peoria, ILPrograms Offered: MSN
View Ranking Methodology
How to Become Certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner?
After completing an MSN-FNP program, the final step would be to earn your certification.
What Certification Options are Available:
MSN-FNP nurses can apply to be certified through either the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
• The ANCC's FNP certification involves completing a 175-question test, 25 of which are unscored pretest questions. Candidates are allowed three and a half hours to complete the examination.
• The AANPCB’s
family nurse practitioner certification exam tests a candidate’s clinical knowledge in individual and family care across the lifespan. The examination includes 150 questions, fifteen of which are considered pretest questions. Therefore, scores are based on only 135 scored questions.
To be eligible for certification as a family nurse practitioner, the following requirements must be met.
1. Graduate from an accredited NP program
2. Complete all required advanced practice nursing core courses such as advanced physiology, advanced pharmacology, and advanced health assessment
3. Possess an active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse
4. Complete a minimum of 500 hours of graduate-level supervised clinical practicum
FNP certification through the ANCC costs $295 for American Nurses Association members and $395 for non-members. Renewal costs $375 for non-members and $275 for ANA members. Through the AANCPBC, certification costs $240 for ANA members and $315 for non-members. Recertification costs $280 for ANA members and $350 for non-members.
FNP certifications through the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board are valid for five years. Requirements for renewal include maintaining an active practice license and meeting the criteria for the number of hours worked and continuing education.
Career Opportunities for MSN-FNP
Depending on your preference for the type of setting you'd like to work in, there are several options for career opportunities for MSN-FNP graduates.
• Primary Care:
Because there is a shortage of primary care doctors, many FNPs find that it is easy to find a position in a primary care setting. Family practice clinics, physician’s offices, and community health centers are common places to fill these positions.
• Long-Term Care/Extended-Care Facilities:
Many nursing homes and long-term or extended-care facilities employ MSN-FNPs to care for residents.
• School Nurse Practitioners:
Many schools hire FNPs to fill the position of a school nurse. While some still employ RNs, FNPs have a broader scope of practice, making them appealing to school systems. Additionally, many colleges and universities have clinics on-campus for easy student and instructor access to healthcare services.
• Nurse Advocate:
Because FNPs work closely with patients and their families throughout the lifespan, there's no wonder that they become great advocates for their clients. Nurse advocates are an essential part of the healthcare delivery team and act as mediators between patients and the care team to ensure the patient's voice is heard.
Earning Potential for MSN-FNP
MSN-FNPs earn an average annual salary of over $107,000, which is equivalent to $52 hourly or $8,900 monthly. As work experience and years of practice increase, salary increases typically follow. Additionally, living in areas where there is an increased need for healthcare providers or where the cost of living is higher may also impact earning potential.
| Per Hour|| $51.67 |
| Per Month|| $8,960|
| Per Year|| $107,468 |
The Top Paying States
Geographical location is a large determining factor associated with income potential. New York is the state with the highest average MSN-FNP salary at almost $118,000 yearly in the United States. Massachusetts, Washington, New Hampshire, and Hawaii are also in the country's five top-paying states. As you can see in the chart below, among the top ten paying states in the US for family nurse practitioners, salaries range from $106,714 to $117,878 annually.
| Rank|| State|| Per Hour|| Per Year|
| 1|| New York|| $56.67|| $117,878|
| 2|| Massachusetts|| $56.14|| $116,763|
| 3|| Washington|| $55.74|| $115,949|
| 4|| New Hampshire|| $54.63|| $113,638|
| 5|| Hawaii|| $53.91|| $112,143|
| 6|| Maryland|| $52.02|| $108,212|
| 7|| Connecticut|| $52.01|| $108,177|
| 8|| Rhode Island|| $51.59|| $107,298|
| 9|| Alaska|| $51.52|| $107,159|
| 10|| Vermont|| $51.30|| $106,714|
Job Outlook for MSN-Family Nurse Practitioners
Some experts predict that there will be a shortage of over 100,000 family practice doctors by 2025. Additionally, the current population in the United States is over 331 million people. As the population increases and the number of family practitioners does not, the need for family nurse practitioners continues to grow. With that in mind, the job outlook for MSN-FNPs is favorable. In fact, the demand for FNPs is expected to increase by twenty-six percent from 2018 to 2028.
Organizations & Associations
Becoming part of an organization or association that caters to family nurse practitioners is a great way to get to enlarge your circle of influence. Professional organizations open the door to networking opportunities and often offer programs for members that help pay for continuing education and other fees associated with the job.
One example of FNP organizations is American Family Nurse Practitioner
. This organization offers FNPs the opportunity to share information and knowledge associated with their career role. It provides continuing updates on practice news, resources, salary information, career development strategies, and job opportunities (to name a few).
Whether you choose from one of the exclusively online MSN-FNP programs or hybrid classes, you can accomplish the goal of becoming a family nurse practitioner. With several online programs to choose from, financial aid options, and a positive outlook for job growth, becoming an MSN-FNP could be a great career opportunity.
Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Our Expert
What is the role of a Family Nurse Practitioner?
The general role of an FNP includes providing healthcare services to patients and their families throughout the lifespan. This means caring for patients from babies to old age. FNPs assess, diagnose, and provide treatment plans and follow-up care to patients.
Are most MSN-FNP programs online?
While there are several online MSN-FNP programs available, students can also choose on-campus learning options. Additionally, some colleges and universities offer hybrid courses, which means some classes alternate from online to on-campus.
Can MSN-FNP online program students get financial aid?
Yes, MSN-FNP students can apply for financial assistance to help offset the expenses related to higher learning. Colleges and universities have financial aid advisors who can give you information about the expected expenses in their program and help you find the financial assistance program that is best for you. Also, don't forget to fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Can I complete an online MSN-FNP program in less than 12 months?
While it may be possible to receive credit by examination for some classes to shorten the length of study time required, most MSN-FNP programs take at least fifteen months to complete. As you are considering which school to enroll in, be sure to ask an academic counselor about the different study paths available and how to gauge the amount of time it may take you to complete each.
Can an MSN-FNP practice independently?
Some states allow FNPs to work independently. However, currently, thirty-eight states require FNPs to have an agreement with a collaborating physician in order to practice. This does not mean that FNPs always have to work in an office with a physician. FNPs should contact their local board of nursing and verify what the practice authority is for their state.
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.