Most Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs
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The tables below rank the most affordable online nurse practitioner programs in the NPSchools.com database. More specifically, each table lists all nursing schools with affordable online nurse practitioner (NP) programs at the specified degree level: master of science in nursing (MSN), doctor of nursing practice (DNP), or post-master’s certificate.
In total, the NPSchools.com database contains more than 900 online programs, and we believe it to be a comprehensive list of online NP programs accepting new students at the outset of the 2021-2022 academic year. Each online program in our database requires less than ten campus visits total, with other coursework to be completed online and, in most but not all cases, clinical preceptorships to be completed at an approved facility near where the student lives and works.
Given the focus on affordability here, each table below lists only programs we have deemed affordable, meaning that the program’s cost, factoring in both in-state and out-of-state tuition, placed it in the upper third of all online NP programs in terms of affordability.
So, to be crystal clear, the program tables below contain only affordable nurse practitioner programs. The bottom two-thirds of programs in our database in terms of tuition cost are not listed on this page, as they did not make the cut.
Even though the median annual wage for NPs is $111,680 per year (BLS, 2020), RNs must consider the cost of earning an advanced NP degree or post-master’s certificate, and weigh the return on the investment in real terms:
- Can one work and continue to make a living as one studies to become an NP?
- How long will that take?
- How quickly can one realistically move into an NP role following graduation?
- How long will it take to pay the degree off?
- How will lifetime earnings increase?
While the nurse practitioner role is one of the most well-compensated, in-demand roles in healthcare, the student loan debt crisis is real, and educational investment and return should be considered and understood. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of all of the most affordable online NP programs in our nursing schools database at the MSN, DNP, and post-master’s certificate levels.
Affordable Online MSN-NP Programs
The following online MSN programs all offer one or more nurse practitioner tracks. Most accept BSN-prepared nurses, but some are designed for registered nurses (RNs) with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. We’ve tried to indicate which applies in the program name, but if it is not specified, then it is safest to assume that the program is designed for BSN-prepared RNs.
Affordable Online DNP-NP Programs
The online DNP-NP programs below are designed for either BSN-prepared or MSN-prepared registered nurses. Very few BSN-to-DNP programs appear on the list since they are generally longer programs and therefore more costly, but when they do appear, the degree path will be specified in the program name. If no degree path is specified in the program name, it is safe to assume that the program is designed for MSN-prepared RNs.
Affordable Online Post-Master’s NP Certificate Programs
All post-master’s certificates are designed for registered nurses who are either MSN-prepared or DNP-prepared. In rare cases, such certificates will require that the nurse be DNP-prepared, but that is more the exception than the rule, and in such cases that will be specified in the program name. While many post-master’s NP certificates will accept any qualified RN with a graduate nursing degree, some do require that the nurse already be an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) of some sort (meaning a clinical nurse specialist, a nurse-midwife, a nurse anesthetist, or an NP). To confuse things further, still other programs require that the nurse be an NP, or even a specific type of NP such as a family NP or pediatric primary care NP. In such cases, we have attempted to specify in the program name, but in all cases with these post-master’s NP certificate programs it is worth clicking through to the detailed school profile to learn the full program requirements.
Notably, many post-master’s certificates register as affordable in our system since the programs tend to be shorter and require fewer credits to complete. How many credits depends on a gap analysis performed at the outset of the program, but for the sake of this table, and our database in general, we always assume that the maximum number of listed credits must be completed.