Top Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP 2018), the largest clinical focus area for nurse practitioners is family practice, at 66.9 percent. This means that two out of three nurse practitioners are studying to become family nurse practitioners (FNPs). This is good news in the wake of a shortage of primary care doctors, estimated to hit 122,000 by 2032 (AAMC, 2019). Nurse practitioners (NPs) are helping to bridge that gap. In fact, the number of NPs is expected to grow 28 percent between 2018 and 2028 compared to the average of 5 percent for all occupations, with an additional 53,300 nurse practitioner jobs by 2028 (BLS, 2018).

FNPs must earn a graduate degree in nursing, such as a master of science in nursing (MSN) or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree, with a family nurse practitioner specialization. MSN-prepared registered nurses (RNs) may alternatively pursue a post-master’s FNP certificate.

The AANP reports that 17.8 percent of NPs hold doctoral degrees (Jan 2019). While a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree is not currently required to become a nurse practitioner, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), with the support of the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Institute of Medicine, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has advocated for the DNP to be the new educational standard in the nurse practitioner field. For the time being, that standard has not been universally adopted, with many universities continuing to offer MSN degrees and post-MSN certificates with NP specializations.

Online Family NP Program Rankings

Aspiring FNPs have a large variety of online master’s, post-master’s certificate, and doctoral level programs from which to choose. In fact, there are more online FNP programs than there are any other type of NP program, which stands to reason given that FNPs represent two-thirds of all practicing NPs.

Typically in online FNP programs, students complete coursework online with a small number of campus visits for immersions, although some programs do not require any campus visits at all. Additionally, all online FNP programs require clinical practicums, which in most cases may be completed at an approved facility local to the student.

The comprehensive NPSchools.com database includes more than 700 online NP programs at the MSN, DNP, and post-master’s certificate levels that were actively accepting students at the outset of the 2019-2020 academic year. To qualify for inclusion, each program had to require fewer than ten total campus visits. Programs are ranked by their school’s AdvanceU score, which factors in cost, admissions flexibility, and program variety.

AT NPSchools.com, we have done our best to ensure the accuracy of the data on our website; however, please contact us if we have missed any programs, or if there is erroneous information that needs to be corrected.

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