Top Online Post-Master’s NP Certificate Programs (2024)
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A post-master’s nurse practitioner (NP) certificate allows master’s-prepared registered nurses to pursue an NP specialization such as family care, neonatal care, pediatric nursing, psychiatric-mental health, adult-gerontology, or women’s health.
Post-master’s NP certificate programs require a valid registered nursing license and an advanced degree such as a master of science in nursing (MSN), a doctor of nursing practice (DNP), or a PhD to enroll.
While many programs will accept any qualified MSN-prepared registered nurse (RN), others accept only advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) such as clinical nurse specialists, nurse-midwives, nurse anesthetists, or NPs. Still others are designed squarely for NPs, in rare cases requiring those NPs to have a specific specialization.
These programs are not one-size-fits-all, which also holds true for the program credit requirements. Incoming post-master’s NP certificate students are subject to a gap analysis whereby admissions personnel evaluate their specific educational background to determine the number and nature of courses and clinical hours needed to complete an NP post-master’s certificate.
Required course credits can range from approximately eight to 50, depending on the specialty and the applicant’s previous education. For example, some programs are geared toward graduates of MSN-NP programs who are already trained as nurse practitioners and want to expand their scope of practice and earn a second or third specialty. Other programs are designed for nurses who do not hold a nurse practitioner certification and require more courses and practicum hours.
While most if not all of the coursework in these programs is offered online, online post-master’s NP certificate programs require the completion of a preceptorship, a supervised clinical practicum to fulfill the program’s practice hours requirement. The preceptorship takes place during the program, and most universities offer placements near a student’s place of residence. Some programs even have services to help students connect with preceptors. Many programs also require a limited number of on-campus residencies or intensives.
To help make the research process more accessible, NPSchools.com has compiled a comprehensive list of online post-master’s NP certificate programs that help nurses specialize in providing care for a specific population. For further detail on admissions, program requirements, online course delivery, and tuition, click on a school to view its full profile.
Online NP Certificate Program Rankings (2023-2024)
Online post-master’s NP certificate programs generally offer mostly or totally online coursework with practicums local to the students. Some programs require a limited number of campus visits as well. To be included in our rankings, programs must require nine or fewer campus visits.
The programs below are drawn from the NPSchools.com database, which contains information for 1,035 online nursing programs at the MSN, DNP, and post-master’s certificate levels, most recently updated just prior to the 2023-2024 academic year. Our mission is to ensure the accuracy of the data on our website. Should you find an error or missing program, please contact us to alert us to the issue.
To calculate credit hour requirements and tuition cost of the programs listed below, we assumed that incoming students would have to complete the full post-master’s NP certificate course load, meaning we assumed a credit requirement and tuition cost at the top of the possible range.
Nurse Practitioner Career and Salary
Certified nurse practitioners are in high demand and the job outlook is excellent for these roles. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), nurse practitioner positions are expected to rise 45 percent between 2022 and 2032, an increase of over 118,600 jobs (BLS 2022). This is much faster than the national average for all occupations (3 percent).
Nurse practitioners in the United States earn an average salary of $124,680 (BLS 2022). NPs play an important role in healthcare, and given their advanced practice training and their significant autonomy and practice authority, NPs can help mitigate the shortage of family practice doctors across the country.
NPs study a wide variety of subjects including courses on:
- Healthcare policy
- Advanced nursing roles
- Evidence-based practice
- Advanced health assessment
Nurse practitioners are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat illnesses, administer medications, provide preventative healthcare and education, and work with patients and healthcare teams in a variety of settings including hospitals, private clinics, government facilities, long-term care facilities, research facilities, and home health care situations.