Best Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs for 2021
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Are you contemplating a career as a neonatal nurse practitioner? There are so many things to consider when planning your education. For example, completing applications for admission, making sure you meet all the requirements for admission criteria, and deciding if you want to attend school part-time, full-time, on-campus, or online are all things you must consider. If you are a registered nurse who wants to become a neonatal nurse practitioner but needs to work, enrolling in a neonatal nurse practitioner online program may be a great option. In this article, we will give you all the information you need about NNP education and also provide you with a list of the best online neonatal nurse practitioner programs for 2021.
What Exactly is the Goal of a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Program?
Online neonatal nurse practitioner programs are specifically designed to help educate and prepare registered nurses for the advanced role of caring for neonates and their families. The programs provide students with an education that involves a deep focus on the management of acutely and critically ill newborns and their families.
How Many Schools Are Currently Offering Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Online Programs?
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners
currently reports that there are thirty-six neonatal nurse practitioner online programs in the United States. One-third of those programs are offered exclusively online, while the other two-thirds incorporate both online and on-campus learning, also known as hybrid classes.
|Programs Offering 100% Online Education|| 10|
| Programs Offering 51% to 99% Online Education|| 26|
| Total|| 36|
Pros and Cons of Pursuing of Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs
When you consider the pros and cons of pursuing an online neonatal nurse practitioner program, keep in mind it really depends on your personal preference regarding learning environments and other obligations you may need to continue to focus on in addition to school. A few things to consider include the following.
• Do you need to continue working?
If so, pursuing an online NNP degree may be a good fit for you as class and assignment schedules may be a bit more lenient for the working student.
• Are you more comfortable making your own schedule and learning independently?
Again, an online NNP program may be an excellent option for you if this applies to you.
On the other hand,
• If you are the type of learner who likes to have easy access to instructors and peers
, pursuing an online NNP program may not be the best option for you.
• If you are not a self-starter
, online learning may pose a bit of a challenge for you, as you must have the desire and self-discipline to complete assignments and communicate with instructors without lots of prompting.
How Long are Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs?
Online neonatal nurse practitioner programs can be completed in twelve to eighty-four months, depending on the path of study that fits your current degree. BSN registered nurses may choose to enroll in a BSN to MSN or BSN to DNP program, and master's level RNs can pursue a terminal degree as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.
Becoming a neonatal NP can take anywhere from twelve to eighty-four months, depending on the path of study you choose. For example, the BSN to MSN program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham
can be completed in fifteen to forty-eighty months. Northeastern University
offers a BSN to MSN neonatal nurse practitioner program that students can complete in twenty-four to thirty-six months, depending on full-time or part-time enrollment. At Emory University
, NNP hopefuls can complete the MSN to DNP program in as little as twenty-four months.
| Pathway|| Length|
| BSN to MSN|| 15 to 48 Months|
| BSN to DNP|| 36 to 84 Months|
| MSN to DNP|| 12 to 48 Months|
How Much Do Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?
No two online neonatal nurse practitioner programs will cost the exact same amount. Some factors that may affect the total cost of a program include whether you are required to pay out of state fees, the program you enroll in (BSN to MSN, BSN to DNP, or MSN to DNP), or whether you have utilized access to any type of financial assistance. Overall, an online neonatal nurse practitioner program can cost anywhere from just under $19,000 to over $169,000.
• At the University of Pittsburgh
, NNP students pay $1,122 per credit plus a $100 computing and network services fee per term. Students are required to complete a minimum 40 credits, which brings the cost of the program to $45,380.
• Students at Stony Brook School of Nursing
pay an average of just over $38,000 for their NNP program.
• The University of Illinois at Chicago’s
tuition is $975 per credit hour. The college’s BSN to DNP program requires students to complete 82 credits, which comes to just under $80,000 total tuition.
| Pathway|| Tuition Cost|
| BSN to MSN|| $18,810 - $185,280 |
| BSN to DNP|| $26,490 - $254,260 |
| MSN to DNP|| $17,660 - $169,510 |
The coursework involved in an online neonatal nurse practitioner program is very competitive. NNP students are typically required to take courses such as developmental and neonatal physiology, neonatal health assessment, concepts of pathophysiology, pharmacotherapeutic therapy related to the neonate, and statistics. For a closer look at the coursework students in neonatal nurse practitioner programs may be required to take, see the charts below.
BSN to MSN Coursework Example:
Following is the coursework for the MSN Neonatal NP program at Stony Brook University.
MSN to DNP Coursework Example:
| Organizational Leadership and Role Transformation|| Advanced Health Assessment of the Neonate and Infant|
| Quality Improvement, Safety, and Health Care Technologies|| Clinical Pathobiology|
| Health Care Policy and Advocacy|| Selected Topics in Neonatal Pathophysiology|
| Statistical Methods & Scholarly Inquiry|| Advanced Theory & Clinical Practice in Perinatal/Neonatal Health Nursing: Childbearing Family|
| Applications in Clinical Nursing Research|| Advanced Theory & Clinical Practice in Perinatal/Neonatal Health Nursing: Primary Care Concepts for High-Risk Infants|
| Neonatal Pharmacology|| Advanced Theory & Clinical Practice in Perinatal/Neonatal Health Nursing: High-Risk Neonate|
|(Source: Stony Brook University)|
Following is the coursework for the DNP Neonatal NP program at University of Pittsburgh.
| Nursing Graduate Orientation Module|| Clinical Diagnostics|
| Public Policy in Health Care|| Leadership Development|
| Applied Statistics for Evidence-Based Practice|| Ethics in Healthcare|
| Database Management|| Organizational and Systems Management for Healthcare Leaders|
| The Science of Health Care Delivery|| Introduction to Health Informatics|
| Human Genetics and Clinical Applications|| Manuscript Development|
| Family Theory for NPs: Principles, Implications, And Application Across the Life Span|| DNP NP Role Practicum|
| Financial, Business, And Economics Drivers in Healthcare Management|| DNP Project Clinical|
| Methodologies for DNP Projects|| Data Analysis for DNP Projects|
| Diagnosis and Management of Psychiatric Conditions in Primary Care|
|(Source: University of Pittsburgh)|
Most nurse practitioner programs require NP students to complete a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours. Some schools allow students to apply up to five hundred hours from a BSN program to the 1,000-hour requirement. However, according to the National Association of Neonatal Nurses
, neonatal nurse practitioner students must complete a minimum of six hundred precepted graduate-level clock hours of clinicals. This means at least 600 clinical hours after completion of BSN clinicals are required. These clinical hours must include caring for infants in the delivery room, Level II, III, or IV neonatal intensive care units, or critically ill neonates.
Admission Requirements for Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Online Schools
Although colleges and universities have guidelines for admission that are specific to their schools and programs. To maintain accreditation, schools are expected to verify that NNP applicants hold a current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse and have at least one year of experience working as an RN prior to admission. To give you a better idea let us look at the following examples.
BSN to MSN Admission Requirements Example:
The University of Pittsburgh
offers admission to its online neonatal MSN-NP program to applicants who meet the following admissions criteria.
• Hold a current, unencumbered license in the US state/territory where clinical requirements will be completed
• Have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher from all post-secondary education sources
• Complete a statistics course within the previous ten years and score a grade of B or higher
• Hold a BSN degree from an ACICS, CCNE, OR ACEN accredited nursing program
MSN to DNP Admission Requirements Example:
Admission to the online neonatal DNP-NP program at the University of Missouri at Kansas City requires students to meet the following criteria.
• Submit a current resume that includes all experience as a registered nurse
• Experience must include at least two years of full-time practice as an RN caring for critically ill newborns or infants before a student can enter any clinical component of the program.
• A letter of recommendation from the Neonatal Medical Director or Neonatal Nurse Practitioner director at a neonatal intensive care unit where you work.
• Personal statement of professional goals and expected outcomes
What Are the Do's and Do Not's of Getting Accepted Into any of the Top Neonatal NP Online Schools?
Any college student, professor, or college advisor that you talk with can give you their opinions about what you should or should not do to improve your chances of acceptance into a neonatal nurse practitioner online program. Realistically, the best thing to do is be thorough and keep it simple. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
• Be direct.
You don't have to write a dissertation about what an incredible asset you can be to the school's NNP program.
• When you complete your application for admission, include all the required documentation and do not try to embellish
it to make yourself look better.
That's right. I just said, don't try to embellish your application. That's where your letters of recommendation come in handy. When it comes to the admissions process, colleges and universities will request letters of recommendation from professional peers. Let their letters do the talking for you. It shows humility on your part because you aren't "blowing your own trumpet," so to speak, and shows what other professionals think of you and your abilities.
• Prepare for the admissions interview.
Prior to admission, program applicants must submit to an admissions interview. Some of the most common questions that are asked are:
o Why do you want to be a neonatal nurse practitioner?
o What motivates you to do a good job?
o Are you easy to work with?
o How do you handle intense situations and work under pressure?
• Whatever you do, do NOT let your nursing license lapse
. You must possess an active, unencumbered registered nursing license to be accepted into any neonatal nurse practitioner program.
• Do not procrastinate
. Even if you are usually very thorough and efficient when it comes to completing paperwork or meeting deadlines, don't risk being denied acceptance by waiting too long to apply. Instead, begin gathering all of the essential information you need for your application for admissions and submit it all together and do it early. By applying early, if there is any additional information that the school would like for you to submit, you will have time to gather and return the requested items.
Following are the 10 Best Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs for 2021
1. The University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, ALPrograms Offered: MSN
and BSN to DNP
2. Rush University - Chicago, ILPrograms Offered: DNP
3. Stony Brook University - Stony Brook, NYPrograms Offered: MSN
and BSN to DNP
4. Duke University School of Nursing - Durham, NCPrograms Offered: MSN
(BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP)
5. University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh, PAPrograms Offered: MSN to DNP
6. University of South Alabama - Mobile, ALPrograms Offered: MSN
(BSN to DNP
and MSN to DNP
7. Northeastern University - Boston, MAPrograms Offered: MSN
8. University of Missouri Kansas City - Kansas City, MO Programs Offered: MSN
and MSN to DNP
9. Emory University - Atlanta, GAPrograms Offered: MSN
and BSN to DNP
10. The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) - Chicago, ILPrograms Offered: MSN to DNP
View Ranking Methodology
What Certification Options are Available for Neonatal Nurse Practitioners?
Online neonatal nurse practitioner program graduates can apply for certification through the National Certification Corporation (NCC)
. Necessary certification criteria include holding an active, unencumbered RN license, passing the certification examination, and providing proof of education from an accredited program. The NNP certification through the NCC is renewable every three years.
If you wish to become certified as a neonatal NP through the NCC, the following eligibility requirements must be met.
1. Possess an active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse
2. Successfully complete an MSN or DNP program at an accredited college
3. Hold current licensure as a Nurse Practitioner
4. Have at least two years of specialty experience and have been employed in the neonatal specialty area within the previous two years
The initial fee for certification through the NCC is $325 for Core examinations and an additional $210 if you test in a sub-specialty.
Neonatal nurse practitioners are required to renew their certification through the National Certification Corporation every three years. Currently, the renewal fee through the NCC is $100.
Scope of Practice for a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in Your State
Although individual states have their own Nurse Practice Act, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners defines the general scope of practice for NPs. Depending on the state where you are licensed and practice, you may have full practice authority, reduce practice authority, or restricted practice authority.
The type of practice authority that states set for practitioners determines how much work if any, an NNP can perform independently. For a list of full, reduced, and restricted practice authority states, refer to the table below.
| Full Practice States|| Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming|
| Reduced Practice States|| Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin|
| Restricted Practice States|| California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia|
There are many career opportunities for neonatal nurse practitioners. From working in neonatology clinics, neonatal intensive care units, and many more, there is no shortage of opportunities when it comes to finding gainful employment as an NNP.
NNPs who like to be on the go may choose to work as part of a medical evacuation team that helps to transport critically ill neonates to facilities that are equipped to care for their immediate needs. Other neonatal nurse practitioners may work in pediatric clinics, hospice or palliative care agencies, private physicians' offices, or in nurse-managed medical centers. Some neonatal nurse practitioners choose to work in educational settings, such as an instructor at a college or university.
Neonatal nurse practitioners earn an average of over $110,200 annually. This is equivalent to $53.00 per hour or $9,190 monthly. NNPs who work in higher risk areas such as trauma centers or who work on transport teams may make higher salaries. Additionally, the geographical location where you work and the shift you are assigned to may also impact whether you are offered a higher salary or other income incentives.
| Per Hour|| $53.00 |
| Per Month|| $9,190 |
| Per Year|| $110,249 |
Top Paying States
The salary of nearly every employment industry is affected by geographical location. Typically, areas that have a higher cost of living or who have a higher patient to provider ratio offer higher salaries as an incentive to attract qualified providers. This includes those states who hire neonatal nurse practitioners.
Currently, in the United States, the highest paying state for NNPs is New York, where NNPs earn almost $121,000 annually. The top five paying states differ by only a few thousand dollars each year. The ninth and tenth ranked states for neonatal nurse practitioner salaries are Alaska and Vermont, who both pay over $109,000 yearly to NNPs.
| Rank|| State|| Per Hour|| Per Year|
| 1|| New York|| $58.14|| $120,929|
| 2|| Massachusetts|| $57.59|| $119,785|
| 3|| Washington|| $57.19|| $118,950|
| 4|| New Hampshire|| $56.05|| $116,580|
| 5|| Hawaii|| $55.31|| $115,045|
| 6|| Maryland|| $53.37|| $111,012|
| 7|| Connecticut|| $53.35|| $110,977|
| 8|| Rhode Island|| $52.92|| $110,075|
| 9|| Alaska|| $52.85|| $109,933|
| 10|| Vermont|| $52.63|| $109,476|
Job Market for Neonatal Nurse Practitioners
In 2019, almost four million babies were born in the United States. With an increased number of newborns to care for, the outlook for NNP jobs is promising. Additionally, the increase in the number of neonatal ICUs combined with NNPs who reach retirement age leaving positions available to be filled play a role in the positive outlook for NNP jobs. According to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, of the 290,000 nurse practitioners in the United States, 1.3 percent specialize as neonatal NNPs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a projected job growth for nurse practitioners in general of around twenty-eight percent between 2018 and 2028. That means an increase in over 82,000 NP in a ten-year period. Using the same 1.3 percent statistic from the AANP, statistics would imply that the opportunity for neonatal NPs should increase by almost 1,100 jobs from 2018 to 2028.
Organizations & Associations
One positive thing you can do for yourself as a neonatal NP is to join an association or organization. Being part of these groups creates a way of networking with other like-minded professionals and building your circle of influence within the industry. Below is a list of a few of the organizations or associations that neonatal nurse practitioners may benefit from.
National Association of Neonatal Nurses:
This organization was established in 2007. the goal of the NANN is to help address professional practice and workforce issues related to neonatal nurse practitioners.
Academy of Neonatal Nursing:
The Academy of Neonatal Nursing's website reports that its mission is to provide quality education for health care providers who offer all levels of neonatal care and to improve overall outcomes for newborns and their families. It offers peer-reviewed publications, online resources, and national conferences to help advance the education and knowledge of members.
Association of Women, Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses:
To "empower and support nurses who care for women, newborns, and their families, through research, education, and advocacy" is the mission statement of the Association of Women, Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. The organization strives to promote diversity by recruiting and mentoring women's health and maternal-child nurses from diverse workforces.
If you are considering becoming an NNP, there are many options for you to pursue and achieve that goal. One trend that is gaining popularity is online neonatal nurse practitioner programs. These programs allow professionals to continue working and handling family or other responsibilities while pursuing a higher degree as an NNP.
Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Our Expert
What Does a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Do?
Neonatal nurse practitioners take care of high-risk newborns and infants up to two years of age. These patients may need care related to complications of prematurity, low birth weight, heart, or developmental abnormalities. NNPs perform assessments, order tests, and develop plans of care and follow-up on patient progress.
How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner?
After obtaining an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing, you must take and pass the NCLEX-RN and become licensed to practice as a registered nurse. Once you become a licensed RN, the following steps will lead you to certification as a neonatal nurse practitioner.
1. Apply for admission into an accredited Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing practice program that offers neonatal nursing as a specialty.
2. In addition to the coursework requirements, complete 500-1,000 clinical competency hours as neonatal practice. Keep in mind, most neonatal nurse practitioner programs require a minimum of 1,000 clinical practicum hours that are precepted in Levels II, III, and IV NICUs. Some schools allow students to apply up to 500 of their BSN clinical hours toward the 1,000-hour requirement.
3. After completing an MSN or DNP program with a specialization in neonatal care, obtain certification from the National Certification Corporation. (Refer to the section below for more information about certification through the NCC.)
4. Obtain nurse practitioner licensure in the state where you reside and plan to work. Each state has requirements that NPs must meet to obtain licensure, which include educational minimums, examinations, and amount of experience in the field.
What is the Difference Between a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and a Neonatal Nurse?
Both neonatal nurses and neonatal nurse practitioners provide care for neonates. Neonatal nurses are RNs who have accomplished either an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing and possess an active license to practice as a registered nurse. On the other hand, Neonatal nurse practitioners possess either a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a particular emphasis on neonatal care.
How fast can I complete an online neonatal nurse practitioner program?
Depending on your level of education when entering an online neonatal nurse practitioner program, you may be able to complete the program in close to a year. The amount of time it takes to complete any NNP program may range from twelve to eighty-four months.
Are financial aid options available for students in online neonatal nurse practitioner programs?
There are several ways to apply for scholarships if you need financial assistance to obtain your NP degree. If you need financial help to pay for college, be sure to fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and make an appointment to speak with a financial advisor at the school(s) of your choice.
If I enroll in a neonatal NP online program, do I need to go to attend classes full-time?
That is entirely up to you. Before enrolling in any online NNP program, it is essential to consider what your other obligations and responsibilities are, such as job and family commitments. If you have other commitments that require a bit of your time, you may find that attending an NNP online program part-time may be less taxing for you. Remember, the objective is to get a quality education and be as well-prepared as possible to do your job well. Even if it takes a little longer because of attending school part-time instead of full-time, you can still accomplish your goal of becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner.
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.