13 Best Public Health Nurse Practitioner Programs – 2024

Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

If you are a registered nurse who is intrigued by how social and economic determinants influence healthcare, a public health nurse practitioner program could be an excellent way to expand your academic and professional reach. Public health nurse practitioner programs allow students to learn about public health concepts, interventions to promote health and wellness among populations and address health disparities among diverse and vulnerable populations. As you read further, you will find information about some of the best public health nurse practitioner programs for 2024. You will learn about different programs, the admission requirements, the curriculum and find out how you can become a leader in public health by practicing in multicultural and diverse settings.

What is the Goal of a Public Health Nurse Practitioner Program?

The goal of public health nurse practitioner programs is to prepare advanced practice nurses capable of influencing population health. They are focused on promoting health and preventing illness and disease among individuals as well as diverse populations. In many cases, public health nurse practitioners do not provide direct patient care but offer provision of healthcare services by evaluating the needs of individuals and populations. Public Health NP programs equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue careers in various settings related to local and global healthcare.

Top 6 Benefits of Public Health Nurse Practitioner Programs

Are you are considering a career in public health but have not yet committed 100%? If so, look at these top benefits of Public Health Nurse Practitioner Programs.

1. Public health nurse practitioner programs allow you to add core knowledge to the nursing experience you already have.

In these programs, you will attain a greater understanding of population-focused nursing care, global health issues, health ministry, and epidemiology.

2. You can become part of a positive transition in health education and the prevention of disease.

Graduates of public health nurse practitioner programs are responsible for educating communities about public health risks and preventive measures to improve healthcare outcomes.

3. Long-term Job Security:

With an increase in acute and chronic illnesses and the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on society, the demand for public health nurses is on the rise. Choosing to enroll in a public health nurse practitioner program will prepare you to take on this vital role and experience job security.

4. Experience diversity within your peer group and the public you serve.

Public health nurse practitioner programs prepare nurses to work with people from various backgrounds, creating an opportunity to learn about diverse cultures while providing a vital public service.

5. Become part of progressive research to benefit public health.

As a public health NP, you will develop an understanding of whole communities and find solutions to healthcare challenges.

6. The satisfaction of being part of change:

Many nurses may have limited or short-term relationships with their patients and seeing the long-term effects of their care may not be possible. However, public health nurse practitioners work with communities of people and become part of significant transformation within public health.

How Long Are Public Health Nurse Practitioner Programs?

Public health nurse practitioner programs may take from twelve months to over four years to complete. Post-Master's or Post-Graduate Certificate programs are usually shorter, while MSN and DNP programs take longer to complete. While it may take a student four or five years to graduate from a dual degree program, that is still less time than taking pursuing the degrees at different times.

Below are examples of a few featured public health nurse practitioner programs, including how long each takes to complete.


University of California San Francisco

offers one of the most popular public health nurse practitioner programs for 2024. The program, designed as a Post-Master's Certificate program, can be completed in three or four quarters. Students are required to earn twenty-nine to thirty-two credit hours of coursework, including Theories of the Health Policy Process, Race and Class Factors in Healthcare Delivery, and Healthcare Economics. Finally, to meet program requirements, students must also participate in sixty clinical hours of Health Policy Residency or Healthy Policy Research Practicum.

NYU School of Nursing and

NYU School of Public Health

have designed a dual MSN/MPH program that combines public health and advanced practice nursing training. The program is designed for full-time enrollment and can be completed in as few as three years. Graduating with a Master of Public Health and Master of Science in Nursing means being positioned for advanced career opportunities, including leadership positions in various settings. Applicants to the MSN/MPH program may choose from eight program options.

1. MSN/MPH in Advanced Practice Nursing: Mental Health/Global Health
2. MSN/MPH in Advanced Practice Nursing: Pediatrics/Global Health
3. MSN/MPH in Advanced Practice Nursing: Adult Care NP/Global Health
4. MSN/MPH in Advanced Practice Nursing: Adult Primary Care NP/Global Health
5. MSN/MPH in Midwifery/Global Health
6. MSN/MPH in Nursing Education/Global Health
7. MSN/MPH in Nursing Informatics/Global Health
8. MSN/MPH in Nursing Administration/Global Health

At the

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

, you can earn a Post-Master's DNP with a Public Health Nurse Leadership track. The program includes forty-eight credit hours. Students must also complete at least four hundred eighty clinical hours. After evaluating master's level clinical hours, some students may be required to complete additional hours to meet the 1,000-hour clinical practicum requirement. The Public Health Nurse Leader/DNP program can be completed in seven semesters of full-time study or nine semesters of part-time enrollment.

The DNP/MPH dual degree program at the

University of Washington

provides students with multi-disciplinary training to apply to population and global health practices. Students learn to recognize social, political, and economic determinants of health and gain hands-on clinical experiences under the direction of faculty from multiple disciplines, including the humanities and social and natural sciences. While students who enroll in DNP or MPH programs at different times may take five years or longer to graduate, students who participate in the concurrent degree option typically take four years to complete this public health nurse practitioner program.

How Much Do Public Health Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost?

Investing in the future of your career by pursuing higher academic training is a big decision. As you research different public health nurse practitioner programs, you will find the average cost can vary significantly. A few factors that influence the overall cost include an applicant's current degree of education (BSN, MSN, etc.), the type of program (Post-Master's Certificate, MSN, DNP), and how many credits are needed to graduate. In addition to tuition fees, students may incur expenses related to mandatory background checks and drug screening, application and enrollment fees, technology fees, and the costs of books, uniforms, and other supplies.

The following are examples of the cost of public health nurse practitioner programs featured in this article.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have two graduate degrees? If you are a registered nurse who wants to earn a master’s degree and have a career in public health, you may not need to look any further than

Emory University

. At Emory University, you can pursue a dual degree public health nurse practitioner program and earn Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees concurrently. The program includes core and specialty content relevant to both Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Public Health study. Prospective students who wish to enroll in the dual program must meet admission requirements and be accepted to both the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing. The study plan requires forty-nine MSN-level credits, 720 clinical hours, and a minimum of thirty-two public health credits. The program’s cost averages $32,984 per term and is typically completed in six semesters, making the student’s financial investment approximately $197,904.

Nebraska Methodist College

recognizes the importance of healthcare policy and public health initiatives and knows that these changes start in local communities with well-prepared healthcare practitioners. The college offers a dual DNP/MPH program for nurses who wish to bolster their careers with an ability to transform healthcare policy. The program consists of fifty credit hours at a rate of $793 per credit hour, averaging $39,650, excluding books, supplies, or other applicable fees.

Cedarville University

offers a Post-Graduate Certificate in Global Public Health Nursing. The program prepares students to make decisions about world health issues, community development, environmental health, and societal structure. The university is founded on Christian principles and uses biblically integrated coursework to help students realize how their views of spirituality and their faith directly influence the care they provide. To earn the certificate, students complete twelve credit hours at a rate of $623 each, making the total tuition cost $7,476.

At the

University of Washington

, nurses who want to work in population and global health and pursue multi-disciplinary training in advanced practice can enroll in the DNP/MPH concurrent degree. This public health nurse practitioner program bases tuition on a per-semester rate of $9,736 for in-state students, and $13,869 for non-residents. The total cost of the program, depending on residency, is $155,776 to $221,904.


University of Colorado Anschutz

College of Nursing offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice-Public Health Nurse Leader program. The curriculum consists of thirty credit hours, including twenty didactic credits and ten project credit hours. Students also complete at least four hundred fifty project practicum hours. Tuition is calculated at a per-credit-hour rate of $1,070. The average cost of the program's tuition is $32,100.

What Is the Curriculum Like?

Curriculum plans for public health nurse practitioner programs vary among schools. A student's individual plan is determined by previous coursework for which credit is transferred, the nurse practitioner concentration, and the type of public health specialty chosen. Although there may be variations in curriculum, most programs include the following classes as part of their plans.

◦ Leadership in Complex Healthcare Systems
◦ Science of Knowledge Translation and Implementation
◦ Informatics and Healthcare Technologies
◦ Fundamentals of Epidemiology
◦ Theories and Research in Leadership, Quality, Safety and Evidence-Based Practice

If you are interested in a leadership role as a public health nurse practitioner, the

University of Massachusetts Amherst

has the public health nurse practitioner program for you! The university offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice with a Public Health Nurse Leader concentration and includes BSN to DNP and MSN to DNP entry options. The curriculum combines systems leadership, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement to build a strong foundation for nurse leadership. The curriculum plan requires students to complete sixty-nine to seventy-five-course credits and at least five hundred four (504) hours of clinical practice in community placements to complete a population health project.

Sample Coursework:

◦ Epidemiology
◦ Healthcare Quality
◦ Nursing Ethics and Healthcare Policy
◦ Biostatistics
◦ Health Disparities and Social Justice


University of Minnesota

offers one of this article’s featured dual degree Public Health Nurse Practitioner Programs. Students must complete a minimum of forty-two credits, including twenty-eight credits from the School of Public Health.

Sample Coursework:

◦ Fundamentals of Social and Behavioral Science
◦ Ethics in Public Health: Professional Practice and Policy
◦ Planning and Budgeting in Public Health
◦ Biostatistics
◦ Principles of Management in Health Services


University of Alabama at Birmingham

offers a Master of Public Health program with a Maternal and Child Health concentration designed to complement the Master of Science in Nursing program. MSN students can choose from Adult, Pediatric, or Family Nurse Practitioner concentrations. Each student's plan of study for the dual degree program will vary depending on their MSN concentration and any previous coursework that is transferable. The program consists of forty-four credit hours, including MPH core coursework, MSN concentration requirements, electives, an MPH Capstone Project, and an internship.

Sample Coursework:

◦ Pharmacology and Therapeutics
◦ Healthcare Systems for Advanced Nursing Practice
◦ Translating Evidence into Practice
◦ Community Health
◦ Leadership for Evidence-Based Public Health

Integrating scientific knowledge with real-world experiences is the focus of the MSN/MPH to DNP-Public Health Policy program at

Nebraska Methodist College

. This DNP-Public Health Policy program includes 50 credit hours of coursework and 960 preceptor-supervised clinical hours. Typically, full-time students can graduate in two years. Part-time students may take up to four years to complete the program.

Sample Curriculum:

◦ Population-Based Healthcare
◦ Clinical Inquiry for the DNP
◦ Community Health Program Planning
◦ Health Systems, Informatics, and Leadership
◦ Civic Health


University of South Alabama

is home to another of our article’s featured public health nurse practitioner programs. Although students are not required to prepare a dissertation or thesis, an evidence-based scholarly project is required. The scholarly project should substantially affect healthcare and patient outcomes as well as quality improvement changes. The clinical residency requirements of the program can be completed in the student's home state/region with an approved preceptor. The thirty-six-credit hour program includes twenty-four credits for DNP core courses and twelve credit hours in the Public Health Administration DNP Project Planning & Development and Residency.

Sample Curriculum:

◦ Scientific Underpinnings of Advanced Nursing Practice
◦ Clinical Prevention and Population Health
◦ Quality Improvement and Outcomes Assessment
◦ Public Health Administration
◦ Data Management and Decision Making in Complex Healthcare Systems

What Are the Admission Requirements?

Individual schools determine the criteria for admission to their public health nurse practitioner programs. Because there are several program options, admission requirements may differ somewhat. Nursing licensure requirements, for instance, may vary based upon the type of program. Additionally, the nurse practitioner concentration and specific public health specialty may have different criteria.

Typical admission requirements include the following.

◦ Possess a Bachelor of Science or Master of Science in Nursing Degree from an accredited program and school
◦ Pass a criminal background check
◦ Show proof of current immunizations
◦ Submit official transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended
◦ Provide resume and/or curriculum vitae
◦ Provide letters of professional recommendation (usually two or three)

The list below indicates admission criteria for some of this article’s featured public health nurse practitioner programs.

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

offers a post-baccalaureate Doctor of Nursing Practice with Public Health Nursing specialization. This program is designed to give nurses who already have public health experience the opportunity to earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice and Master of Public Health dual degree.

Admission Criteria:

◦ Possess a Master Science in Nursing degree with an advanced practice specialty
◦ MSN must be issued from a regionally accredited college or university with ACEN or CCNE program accreditation
◦ Request official transcripts from all post-secondary schools attending, including any school where the applicant may be currently enrolled.
◦ Selected applicants will attend an Interview Day before proceeding further with the admissions process.

LaSalle University

offers a post-master's certificate option for nurses who have achieved a Master of Science in Nursing.

Admission Requirements:

◦ Minimum Master of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited university
◦ Evidence of minimum 3.2 cumulative grade-point-average for all undergraduate coursework (Applicants whose GPA is less than 3.2 must take and submit MAT/GRE scores that are above the 50th percentile on quantitative and verbal skills.)
◦ One year of clinical experience as a registered nurse relevant to public health nursing before beginning the clinical component of the program

The Public Health Post-Master's Certificate and Doctor of Nursing Practice at

Wilmington University

provides students with a strong foundation of practical and academic knowledge for master's prepared nurses who wish to become public health specialists. Prospective students must meet admission requirements for both the DNP program and the Post-Master's Public Health Certificate program.

Admission Requirements:

◦ Master’s degree in nursing from an ACEN or CCNE accredited nursing program
◦ Provide one professional letter of recommendation from someone with a minimum doctorate
◦ Submit professional resume
◦ Request official transcripts from all post-secondary learning institutions

The Post-Master's Certificate in Advanced Public Health Nursing gives students

at the University of California San Francisco

the opportunity to pursue an additional specialty area or study a program that may lead to a change in their nursing role. Graduates of the program receive a certificate and are eligible to take national certification examinations.

Admission Requirements:

◦ Possess a Master of Science in Nursing (Applicants who are accepted must be licensed by the state Board of Registered Nursing and be valid for practice in the state of California during the program's entirety. A registered nurse whose license is from a US state or Canada may qualify for Licensure by Endorsement by the Board of Registered Nursing.)
◦ Submit a Personal Goal Statement
◦ Provide at least three letters of professional recommendation
◦ Submit resume or curriculum vitae


University of Alabama at Birmingham

understands the importance of offering women and children exceptional nursing care and provides the Public Health-Maternal and Child Health dual MPH/MSN degree to help meet those needs. Prospective students must apply and be accepted to both the School of Nursing and School of Public Health to participant in this concurrent Public Health Nurse Practitioner Program.

Admission Requirements:

◦ Possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from a regionally accredited institution and nationally-accredited nursing program (CNEA or CCNE)
◦ Provide Statement of Purpose and Objectives
◦ Official transcripts from all college-level institutions attended
◦ GRE Info: Because of COVID-19 Pandemic, GRE scores are waived for 2021 applicants only. However, the program may request GRE scores for any applicant with a cumulative undergraduate grade point average less than 3.0 or who lacks professional experience.


(The following Certificates and Degree Programs are ideal for individuals who aspire to become a Public Health Nurse Practitioner.)

1. University of California San Francisco - San Francisco, CA

Program Type:

Post-Master’s Certificate (Population Health and Health Policy - Advanced Public Health Nursing)

2. University of Massachusetts Amherst - Amherst, MA

Program Type:

DNP (Public Health Nurse Leader)

3. Emory University - Atlanta, GA

Program Type:

MSN/MPH Dual Degree

4. University of Minnesota - Minneapolis, MN

Program Type:

Public Health Nursing Practice - DNP/MPH Dual Degree

5. University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus - Aurora, CO

Program Type:

DNP - Public Health Nursing (DNP-PHN)

6. La Salle University - Philadelphia, PA

Program Type:

Post-Master’s Certificate (Public Health Nursing)

7. Cedarville University - Cedarville, OH

Program Type:

Graduate Certificate in Global Public Health Nursing

8. The University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

Program Type:

MPH/MSN (Public Health - Maternal and Child Health/Nursing)

9. NYU School of Global Public Health - New York, NY

Program Type:

MSN/MPH Dual Degree

10. Wilmington University - New Castle, DE

Program Type:

Post-Masters Public Health Certificate and DNP

11. UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing - San Antonio, TX

Program Type:

MSN to DNP (Leadership Tracks in Public Health Nurse Leader (PHL))

12. Nebraska Methodist College - Omaha, NE

Program Type:

MSN/MHP to DNP - Public Health Policy

13. University of South Alabama - Mobile, AL

Program Type:

MSN - DNP (Public Health Administration)

What Kinds of Career Opportunities Exist for Public Health Nurse Practitioners?

Graduates of public health nurse practitioner programs are prepared with the skills necessary to pursue leadership roles in both public health and nursing. Some Public Health Nurse Practitioners work in government agencies, community healthcare clinics, and non-profit organizations. The following are a few examples of possible positions Public Health NPs may choose.

• Public Health Nurse Practitioner:

Public Health Nurse practitioners work with a specific patient population, often in underserved communities. Job responsibilities include performing health assessments and providing patient care and education. It is not uncommon for public health nurse practitioners to have non-hospital roles, such as working for the city or in federally funded public health organizations, private community health centers, and mobile healthcare units.

• Epidemiologist:

Public health nurse practitioners who specialize in epidemiology research work to investigate the spread of infectious diseases. They collect and analyze data related to disease and work with government agencies and public health organizations to help design research studies, oversee public health programs, and prepare guidelines for preventing diseases.

• Public Health Educator:

In this position, public health nurse practitioners develop and help provide educational programs for individuals and communities promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing disease. They may work independently or under the direction of a public health director to help develop educational materials, supervise other public health staff, or deliver public health programs.

Average Salary for Public Health Nurse Practitioners

According to ZipRecruiter, graduates of public health nurse practitioner programs earn an average of $89,000 a year. This income, which is approximately $42.86 hourly, is six times higher than the national minimum wage and puts public health nurse practitioners among only 12.3 percent of the US population at this income level.

Per Hour$42.86
Per Month$7,430
Per Year$89,155
(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)

Job Outlook for Public Health Nurse Practitioners

Several factors contribute to what most sources believe is a promising outlook for public health nurse practitioners. An aging population with new health concerns, the increase in acute and chronic health conditions, and illnesses that affect the population globally, such as COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, and the Zika virus, mean public health nurse practitioner jobs will continue to be in abundant supply.


Pursuing an education as a public health nurse practitioner can open doors of opportunity on many levels among diverse populations locally and worldwide. The public health nurse practitioner programs for 2024 featured in this article provide didactic and clinical experiences that prepare students to provide public healthcare services and significantly impact the delivery of healthcare globally.


After I complete a Public Health Nurse Practitioner Program, what certifications are available?

Public health nurse certifications are available to Public Health Nurse Practitioners who have achieved a Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice within a public health focus. The National Board of Public Health Examiners offers a Public Health Certification exam. The Public/Community Health Clinical Nurse Specialist Certification issued by the American Nurses Credentialing Center is available for renewal only to public health nurse practitioners who are already certified by the ANCC.

What resources are available to help pay for Public Health NP Programs?

Like most college or university programs, there are several resources to help public health NP students with school-related expenses. One of the most common ways prospective students secure academic funding is by applying for federally funded grants or loans. You can do that by filling out a Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA). Also, personal loans, employer-sponsored education incentives, and work-study programs are other options.

Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
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).

Other Nurse Practitioner Programs

Best Nurse Practitioner Schools in Your State