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Best Online RN to NP Programs – 2021


Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org


FOLLOWING ARE THE 15 BEST ONLINE RN TO NP PROGRAMS IN THE NATION FOR 2021

(These RN to NP programs are ideal for Registered Nurses with an Associate Degree in Nursing who wish to pursue nurse practitioner education.)

1. Ball State University - Muncie, IN


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner

Ball State University, known for the excellent quality of nurse practitioners it produces can take your entry-level nursing career to advanced practice in primary care. Counted among the leading online RN to NP programs in the nation, by graduating from Ball States’s NP program you will leave with a strong sense of commitment and passion to improve healthcare and serve the community. If you are a working nurse, juggling personal and professional responsibilities, enrolling in this online program can serve you rather well as the college has received acclaim for its online graduate education and even ranks among the US News & World Report’s top online graduate nursing programs.

Program Details: To be eligible for Ball’s RN to MSN-NP program you must have an ADN along with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. If you are wondering whether this online program can live up to the quality of on-campus training, well here, not only will you be taught by an expert faculty that is well-versed with online education, but you will also have access to the university’s vast resources just like an in-person student. Upon enrollment into this NP pathway, you will first finish the bridge coursework and then take the MSN-FNP coursework. The graduate-level courses comprise a total of 47 credits, including 6 credits in research core, 8 credits in nursing core, and 33 credits in FNP-specific courses. After you complete the program, you will be eligible to take the FNP certification exam and earn the credential of a certified FNP.


2. Ohio State University - Columbus, OH


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

As a registered nurse, do you find your calling in advanced nursing practice? If the answer is yes you must consider enrolling in OSU’s sought-after RN to NP online programs that will push your nursing career to the next level of advanced practice nursing by bringing the classroom to you. Here, you can choose between the FNP, PMHNP, or NNP tracks and get certified in your chosen area of emphasis. Although you complete your NP education through the distance format, OSU medical center’s teaching hospitals and community partnerships provide you with varied clinical learning experiences so that you do not miss out on the vital real-world learning component.

Program Details: All three online RN to nurse practitioner programs at OSU are open to registered nurses with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree. Regardless of the track you choose, the program starts with bridge courses after which you enter the graduate-level courses in your chosen specialty. You will graduate with evidence-based and critical thinking skills that equip you to work in a variety of healthcare settings. Graduation requires you to complete credits anywhere close to 65 in the MSN core, advanced practice core, and specialty-specific courses. The program educates you on innovation in advanced nursing practice, pathophysiology, health policy & advocacy, advanced health assessment, pharmacology, health promotion & disease prevention, and your role as an advanced practice nurse within your chosen population foci.


3. Vanderbilt University - Nashville, TN


Concentrations Offered: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner - Hospitalist, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner - Intensivist, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Primary Care, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (Lifespan), Women's Health Nurse Practitioner - WHNP, and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner/ Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner - Dual Focus

As an RN with a diploma or associate degree in nursing, you are a first-hand witness of the promising field of nursing. Now, are you ready to take your nursing career to the next level but lack the will to attend on-campus classes? Well, in that case, Vanderbilt University can be your go-to place. Here, not only can you earn the NP credential through the distance format, but among all the other well-known online RN to NP programs, Vanderbilt’s NP education offers the widest range of specializations. In addition to online classes which can be taken from the comfort of your home, the college allows completing the clinical experience within your geographical location.

Program Details: Entering this program after an associate degree will entail completing two semesters of baccalaureate equivalent courses before you start with the MSN core and specialty-specific courses. The college offers several single-specialty and dual specializations. Regardless of the track, usually most students complete this program, within two or three years, depending on whether they enroll in the part-time or full-time schedule. After you complete the bridge courses, the MSN-NP courses comprise around 40 credits. All the tracks prepare you in the core topics of advanced pathophysiology, application of evidence-based knowledge, advanced health assessment & clinical reasoning, pharmacotherapeutics, and roles and context for advanced nursing practice. Upon completion of the program, you will be eligible to take the NP certification exam within your chosen population foci.


4. Loyola University New Orleans - New Orleans, LA


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner

Counted among the best online RN to NP programs, pursuing your NP degree from Loyola University, New Orleans can be a prudent decision. The college is known for its stellar online education and ranks in the U.S. News & World Report’s list of best graduate nursing programs in the nation. Whether you an RN with or without a bachelor’s degree in another field, here you can choose a path that suits your academic needs and leave the college with marketable advanced practice nursing skills. So, if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you can take the accelerated path and earn the NP quickly. However, with this path, you earn only the MSN and no BSN is awarded. Alternatively, for students without baccalaureate education, you can enroll in the pathway that confers upon you two degrees of BSN & MSN, in addition to the NP credential.

Program Details: To qualify for this program, you must have an encumbered RN license and at least 12 months of work experience as a registered nurse. Upon enrollment, you first complete the bridge or BSN equivalent courses after which you enter the MSN portion to complete the master’s level and NP courses. The program aims at preparing you for advanced primary care of individuals and families across the lifespan. The MSN-NP program requires completing 48 credits and 720 practicum hours. The program offers all the courses through the distance format, except for the two on-campus sessions which you must attend for the intensives. Besides, you can complete the clinical training near home or even at your current workplace, provided you have the approval of the college.


5. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi - Corpus Christi, TX


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner

Graduating from one of the best online RN to NP programs in the country will not only open doors to a variety of high paying job opportunities but also secure your nursing career. As a master’s degree seemingly becomes the entry-level nursing qualification, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi through its RN to MSN program paves way for advanced primary care. This pathway not only offers an affordable route to becoming an NP but through excellent didactic and clinical training, you will graduate with evidence-based skills required to offer advanced patient care to individuals, families, and communities across the lifespan.

Program Details: The college offers RNs prepared with an ADN or nursing diploma with two options; an RN to MSN and an RN-Bridge program. The RN to MSN is designed for students with an associate degree and no baccalaureate degree. On the other hand, you are eligible for the bridge program if you have an ADN/diploma and a non-nursing baccalaureate degree. With the bridge program, you complete BSN equivalent courses, however, you do not earn a BSN, whereas with the RN to MSN program you earn two degrees of a BSN and an MSN. Both the pathways require you to complete core MSN courses before starting with the FNP courses. Upon completing the 49 graduate credits, you will become adept at research methods in advanced practice, health policy & cultural diversity, advanced pharmacological concepts, health promotion, and management of acute & chronic illnesses. The program ends with an integrated clinical practice where you hone clinical skills in a real-world setting.


6. Western University of Health Sciences - Pomona, CA


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

If you are a busy working nurse keen on enrolling in one of the best RN to nurse practitioner programs online in California to complete your graduate education, then you must check out the RN to MSN program offered by the Western University of Health Sciences. With a complete online coursework, campus intensives held over the weekends, and clinical training allowed near your home, this program is a popular choice not only for students from Pomona but also from small counties and rural areas throughout the state. The program trains you in advanced primary care of individuals and families across the lifespan. The web-based learning entails participating in various online activities, including discussion forums, group projects, and presentations.

Program Details: This NP pathway is open to the university’s ADN to MSN students. Preferably, you must apply to the FNP program immediately after you complete the MSN. This way your application will be processed seamlessly as you will not require re-submitting your transcripts. For students who choose to apply to the FNP program later, you must go through the FNP application process all over again. The entire program spans two to three years and requires you to complete the bridge courses before you start with the FNP coursework. After you graduate from the MSN program, you will then start with the FNP post-master’s curriculum which requires completing 44-48 credits. During the one year of FNP education, you focus on primary care management and take courses in advanced physical assessment, human diversity, advanced pathophysiology, health promotion & disease prevention, societal & ethical issues, and professional practice issues.


7. Concordia University Wisconsin - Mequon, WI


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner and Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

Concordia University’s faith-based online RN to NP programs in family health and adult-gerontology care can be a game-changer to your nursing career. With flexible schedules that can easily fit into your busy life schedule, the program seamlessly takes your ADN to the advanced practice level. As a graduate, you will be prepared to offer Christ-centered nursing care through enhanced decision-making and evidence-based knowledge. If you are considering continuing work, you can do so as you complete the program, taking one course at a time through the online format. Apart from rigorous didactic courses, the program entails going through simulations and lab experiences for which you are required to visit the campus.

Program Details: To qualify for this program, you must have an ADN from an accredited school with a minimum GPA of 3.0, in addition to a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. To become an NP through this path you must first complete the bridge courses and thereafter continue with the program to complete MSN-level courses. Through the 41-credit MSN coursework, you learn about healthcare policy, interprofessional collaboration, evidence-based nursing, healthcare informatics, pharmacotherapeutics, and global perspectives in healthcare. Additionally, you also complete courses in your chosen population foci, after which you will be eligible to take the certification exam.


8. Samford University - Birmingham, AL


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner with Emergency Nurse Practitioner, and Family Nurse Practitioner & Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

If you are searching for the best online RN to NP programs in Alabama, then you must learn about Samford University which offers the state’s only such pathway, taking an ADN prepared RN’s career straight to the master’s level, all through online classes. During the two to three years of this program, your academic goals will be supported by its caring faculty that provide the required one-on-one attention to make your online study an effective learning experience. Should you plan to continue with your doctorate education, the college allows a seamless transition into its DNP program without going through the hassle of reapplying.

Program Details: The college offers three RN to nurse practitioner programs online that prepare you to provide advanced primary care. Depending on your interest, you can enroll either in the single FNP track or combine it with emergency care or the care of psychiatric mental health patients, taking the dual specialization. To qualify for this program, you must have an encumbered RN license along with either an ADN or a diploma. The program starts once a year in May and requires you to complete the five bridge courses in the first two semesters, before progressing to the MSN core courses. While most of the courses are offered online, there are few courses for which you require visiting the Birmingham campus. If you enroll in the dual-track, you must earn a total of 74 credits after which you will be eligible to take the certification exam in both the specialties. Whereas, the FNP track requires completing 57 credits in MSN core and specialty-specific courses.


9. University of Michigan-Flint - Flint, MI


Programs Offered: RN to MSN and RN to DNP

RN to MSN-NP Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner (with non-nursing bachelor's degree) and Family Nurse Practitioner (without bachelor's degree)

RN to DNP-NP Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


University of Michigan’s NP program is one of the few online RN to NP programs in the nation that offers registered nurses two pathways to advance their nursing careers. Whether you are an RN, with or without a bachelor’s degree, you can seamlessly pursue either a master’s or doctorate, by conveniently studying through the distance format. With minimal campus visits and clinical experiences completed in your own community, you can earn this higher degree without keeping your current job on hold. Outstanding pass rates on the NP certification exams, excellent faculty support, and access to meaningful academics and research resources, are some of the reasons that make this college a rather popular choice.

Program Details: To start with, you must have an encumbered RN license to qualify for the MSN or DNP program. While the MSN is open to both, students with or without a bachelor’s degree, entry into the DNP is through progression after you complete the MSN-NP program. If you don’t have a bachelor’s in any field, you must be a highly promising student, having an ADN with a minimum GPA of 3.50. The same eligibility criteria applies to you even if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s. Regardless, upon enrollment, you must first take the undergraduate courses within the first two years of admission, after which you will continue with the MSN-NP and later DNP-NP, should you aspire to gain specialized skills at the doctoral level. While the MSN comes with the FNP specialization, the DNP offers options in the FNP, AACNP, AGNP, and PMHNP tracks.


10. East Tennessee State University - Johnson City, TN


Concentrations Offered: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner

East Tennessee State University’s RN to NP online programs emphasize interdisciplinary education and focus on the improvement of rural health. With two specialization options in psychiatric mental health and family health, the college prepares you for success not only on the certification exam but also to work in varied types of healthcare settings. Offered completely online, the college provides working RNs the flexibility to choose between part-time and full-time options. As an NP student, the college provides you various opportunities to hone professional skills, be it through extensive simulation opportunities or real-world learning experiences at its seven nurse-managed health centers.

Program Details: RNs with a non-nursing BA/BS degree can apply to this NP program and earn an MSN upon graduating. Although the BSN is not conferred through this pathway, you must still complete BSN equivalent bridge courses worth 12 credits before you start with the MSN-NP courses. These courses prepare you with a foundation in health promotion & research, leadership, population, and public health nursing, upon which you build your master’s and advanced practice knowledge. Coming to the MSN-NP coursework, to graduate you must complete about 51 credits and 540 clinical hours. The core MSN courses educate you on health assessment, nursing research for evidence-based practice, advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, and health promotion & clinical management of your population focus.


11. Simmons College - Boston, MA


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner

Do you see yourself offering advanced nursing care to individuals and families across the lifespan? If so, Simmons College can help you accomplish this dream, taking your associate degree in nursing straight to the master’s level. Counted among the best online RN to NP programs in the nation, the college’s MSN pathway comes with three start dates and accepts applications on a rolling basis. Simmons, known for the quality of nurses it produces ever since 1902, prepares students for this challenging career by emphasizing clinical training, providing them with learning opportunities throughout Boston’s prominent healthcare centers.

Program Details: This program is designed for registered nurses with an ADN degree, having a minimum GPA of 3.0 in nursing courses. To apply you may or may not have a baccalaureate degree as the program includes bridge courses that are BSN equivalent. By completing these courses, you will not be awarded a BSN, nonetheless, you will build a firm base for the MSN and NP coursework. The MSN comes with the FNP specialization and requires completing almost 68 credits for graduation. The three-year study prepares you for health promotion, disease prevention, and healthcare management. Upon completion of the program, you will be eligible to take the FNP certification exam.


12. Graceland University - Lamoni, MO


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

If you are looking at completing your NP education from one of the well-known RN to NP online programs that not only confers upon you the MSN-NP degree but also awards a BSN, then you must check out this program offered by Graceland University. Here, you enter with an associate in nursing and leave the college with advanced practice skills in family health, adult/gerontology acute care, or psychiatric mental health, depending on the track you choose. Unlike most other RN to NP programs online, this program offers an opt-out after a BSN, should you desire to leave the program after earning your baccalaureate degree.

Program Details: An ideal candidate for this program would be a registered nurse with an accredited ADN degree. Depending on the track you choose, the program leads to certification either as an FNP, AGACNP or PMHNP. As a registered nurse, the program allows up to 28 credits to be transferred from your ADN towards this program, saving you time and tuition dollars. After you complete the BSN courses you will be awarded the baccalaureate degree, thereafter you take the MSN and specialty-specific courses. As such, the specialty-specific coursework comprises around 33 credits and includes relevant clinical experiences that can be completed within your geographical location. All the three programs offer flexible part-time and full-time schedules and can be completed across eight trimesters.


13. Regis College - Weston, MA


Concentrations Offered: Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioner (AGNP), Adult Gerontology – Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP), Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

With several concentration options, Regis College’s online RN to NP programs are considered to be one of the largest in Massachusetts, Here, NP graduates not only pass the certification exam with impressive pass rates, but they leave the program with exceptional skills in critical thinking and advanced practice nursing to impact healthcare locally and globally. Furthermore, the college’s close-knit and caring environment helps in nurturing your career goals and also provides an opportunity to form lasting connections with faculty and peers.

Program Details: Regis’s RN to nurse practitioner online programs are available to ADN prepared registered nurses. You also need to complete a college-level statistics course as a pre-requisite to admission. Depending on your interests, you can choose any track from the AGNP, AGACNP, FNP, PMHNP, and WHNP concentrations. Regardless of the track, you can complete the program by enrolling in part-time or full-time classes. Most students complete the 46 to 64 graduate-level credits within 28 to 36 months. Before you start with the MSN courses, you are required to complete bridge courses after which you will continue with MSN core courses. The core takes you through courses in health assessment, evidence-based practice, nursing theory, pathophysiology, health promotion & disease prevention, and roles & issues in advanced practice nursing. Thereafter, the curriculum takes you through the NP-specialization courses, upon completion of which you will be eligible to take the certification exam within your chosen population foci.


14. Bradley University - Peoria, IL


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner

There are very few RN to nurse practitioner online programs in the nation that are 100% online in the true sense. If you are looking at completing your NP education without absolutely any campus or residency requirements, then Bradley University’s RN to MSN program has got you covered. The program trains you to provide high-quality primary care entirely through the distance format, even allowing you to choose your preceptors and complete clinicals within your community. As the demand for primary care providers increases, this program can advance your nursing education and prepare you to join the NP workforce without causing much interference to your current life schedule. Upon graduation, you will be able to treat patients without the supervision of a physician as many states are now allowing NPs to practice autonomously.

Program Details: You can apply to this program with an ADN and an RN license. The program prepares you to practice as a family nurse practitioner, within 3.3 years. So, you enter with an associate degree and start the program by taking nine credits in bridge courses. These bridge courses build a basis for professional nursing practices, research in nursing, community health & nursing theory, and also include a practicum. The program then takes you through MSN-FNP courses in advanced pathophysiology, evidence-based practice, health assessment, health informatics, health policy, advanced pharmacology, professional aspects of advanced practice nursing, and primary care across the lifespan. Graduation requires completing a total of 59 credits and 750 clinical hours across 10 semesters. As a graduate, you will be able to explore promising employment opportunities in varied healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, health departments, private homes, schools, and community clinics.


15. Carson-Newman University - Jefferson City, TN


Concentrations Offered: Family Nurse Practitioner

Carson-Newman University’s NP graduates have played a significant role in fulfilling the need for primary care as the nation continues to reel under the shortage of primary care physicians. The college’s NP program, counted as one of the affordable RN to NP online programs in the nation can prepare you for this in-demand advanced practice role through online coursework, where you are required to attend only one three-day residency session throughout the program. The clinical practicum which forms an important part of your training has the college’s Placement Specialist match you with a preceptor and a clinical site to suit your individual needs. This placement support can be rather beneficial as you can focus on your courses, saving valuable time and effort in searching for clinical sites and preceptors.

Program Details: You can enter this FNP program with or without a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Regardless, you must have completed an associate degree in nursing from an accredited college along with an encumbered RN license. The program starts with bridge courses, after which you take the MSN-FNP courses. You will be educated on advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, advanced health assessment, research methods & design in nursing, and advanced primary care of individuals & families across the lifespan. Upon completion of the program, you will be eligible to take the FNP certification exam and find a suitable placement, soon after.

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