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As a registered nurse (RN), you might wonder if you could take your career further. Assisting physicians while helping to treat patients can prove to be a rewarding, fulfilling experience. But perhaps you’re looking to increase your earning potential or pursue a nursing specialty in primary or family care. 

You might be ready to advance into the role of a family nurse practitioner (FNP). 

Becoming a family nurse practitioner requires considerable effort, and some RNs may find it difficult to dedicate enough time and money for a traditional FNP program. Fortunately, many universities now offer online FNP programs that allow students to balance their coursework with their professional and family lives. 

These FNP programs teach nurses specialized skills related to diagnosing, treating, and educating patients of all ages. FNPs enjoy an autonomy similar to that of primary care physicians, and an FNP’s training and skill set typically qualify them for higher incomes than RNs. 

The Best Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs 

Below is a list of some of the top-ranking online FNP programs in the nation. But what makes these programs better than others? Criteria include tuition per credit hour, program length, accreditation, and more. Read on to learn more and to find which online program best suits you.  

Duke University 

A private research university located in Durham, NC, Duke University is known for its selective admission rate and rich history. Duke is home to over 16,000 total students and has 12 schools, ranging from its Trinity College of Arts and Sciences to the Duke University School of Nursing. 

The School of Nursing was established in 1931 and offers a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in nursing. Specialties for nurse practitioner programs include neonatal nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), and family nurse practitioner, among others. 

Tuition: $1,984/credit hour 

Program Length: About 20 to 24 months for full-time students 

Number of Students Enrolled Online: 631 

Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 

Application Deadline: December 1 

Frontier Nursing University 

FNU is a private graduate school of nursing in Versailles, Kentucky. It is known as a pioneer in midwifery and family nursing in the U.S. In 1970, the school launched the first FNP program in the nation. 

The university emphasizes distance education and teaches advanced skills to nurses, equipping them to administer primarily to underserved and rural regions. The institution is a product of the Frontier Nursing Service, itself established in the 1920s. Its online FNP program was ranked #3 by U.S. News in their 2023 Best Online Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s Programs ranking. 

Tuition: $646/credit hour 

Program Length: 24 months or more for full-time students 

Number of Students Enrolled Online: 2,461 

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) 

Application Deadline: Rolling (April 3, 2024 for Summer Term 2024 and June 26, 2024 for Fall Term 2024) 

Duquesne University 

Duquesne University is a private Catholic research university based in Pittsburgh, PA. The university hosts over 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offers nine schools, with the first dating back to 1878.  

Its School of Nursing opened in 1937 and offers a bachelor’s and master’s in nursing, along with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Duquesne University was the first university in the U.S. to offer an online Ph.D. in nursing in 1997. 

Tuition: $1,635/credit hour 

Program Length: About 20 to 24 months for full-time students 

Number of Students Enrolled Online: 436 

Accreditation: CCNE 

Application Deadline: Rolling 

University of Alabama 

The University of Alabama’s flagship campus is located in Tuscaloosa, AL. Established in 1820, UA has over 38,000 total students and offers 13 academic divisions, including the College of Community Health Sciences and the Capstone College of Nursing. 

Its online programs welcome a diverse range of students and help make it easier for established, working adults to continue their higher education journey. U.S. News ranked UA’s online FNP master’s program #4 in the nation in 2023. 

Tuition: $440/credit hour 

Program Length: Around 24 months for full-time students 

Number of Students Enrolled Online: 266 

Accreditation: CCNE 

Application Deadline: Rolling 

George Washington University 

Situated in the U.S. capital, George Washington University is a private research university with 14 schools and colleges. GWU’s School of Nursing offers programs in family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership and management, clinical research administration, and more. 

Several of the university’s programs have been included in various national rankings, including its online master’s in nursing programs. A primary goal of GWU’s School of Nursing is to help resolve inequalities in the U.S. healthcare system by offering six specialty areas of study at the postgraduate nursing level.  

Tuition: $1,395/credit hour 

Program Length: 24 months or more for full-time students 

Number of Students Enrolled Online: 538 

Accreditation: CCNE 

Application Deadline: Rolling 

Drexel University 

Private research institution Drexel University has its home in Philadelphia, PA and has offered programs in its College of Nursing and Health Professions since 2002. The university supports undergraduate and graduate students in gaining work experience through a generous cooperative education program. 

Drexel University is also known for its cutting-edge learning technologies, industry-recognized faculty members, and synchronous online courses for many of its programs.  

Tuition: $1,069/credit hour 

Program Length: 24 months or more for full-time students 

Number of Students Enrolled Online: 1,277 

Accreditation: CCNE 

Application Deadline: Rolling 

Texas A&M University 

Texas A&M University—located in College Station, TX—hosts one of the largest student bodies in the country at nearly 73,000 total students. Since its establishment in 1876, the university’s educational offerings have expanded with more and more research-intensive programs. 

Its School of Nursing provides a bachelor’s degree in nursing; master’s degrees in nursing education, FNP, and forensic nursing; and a DNP degree. Students enjoy a wide range of in-person clinical settings where they can apply their skills. 

Tuition: $816/credit hour 

Program Length: 24 months or more for full-time students 

Number of Students Enrolled Online: 148 

Accreditation: CCNE 

Application Deadline: December 1

Georgetown University

Georgetown University is a private Jesuit research university in Washington, D.C. Around 19,000 total students are enrolled and participate in 11 academic divisions, including law, business, and nursing. 

Georgetown University’s Department of Nursing launched its first online master’s program in 2011. The online FNP program teaches principles of disease prevention, illness management, health promotion, and more. Nursing students have access to a unique robotic mannequin that can simulate different physiological conditions, enhancing their learning experience. 

Tuition: $2,358/credit hour 

Program Length: Around 24 months for full-time students 

Number of Students Enrolled Online: Several hundred 

Accreditation: CCNE 

Application Deadline: July 13  

University of Southern California 

The University of Southern California is the oldest private research university in California. USC offers programs through its Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, Graduate School, and 20 professional schools. More than 49,000 total students are enrolled in the university. 

USC offers a fully online FNP program with full-time and part-time tracks. The program teaches students how to address the physical, biomedical, and environmental factors affecting patient health and well-being.  

Tuition: $2,137/credit hour 

Program Length: Less than 24 months for full-time students; Around 33 months for part-time students 

Accreditation: CCNE 

Application Deadline: March 12 

Stony Brook University 

Stony Brook University is a public research university in Long Island, NY. More than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled at SBU. It is recognized as New York’s flagship university and is among the most popular institutions of higher education in the state. 

SBU’s FNP program provides flexible ways for students to learn health promotion and patient treatment principles online and then apply their skills at onsite clinical locations.   

Tuition: $471/credit hour 

Program Length: Around 24 months for full-time students 

Accreditation: CCNE 

Application Deadline: October 7 

Western Governors University 

Western Governors University is an online, nonprofit university based in Salt Lake City, UT. It offers accredited programs in business, information technology, education, and healthcare. More than 300,000 students have graduated from WGU since its establishment in 1997. 

WGU is known for its competency-based education model that lets students progress through assignments and examinations as fast as they prove mastery of the material. Its FNP program charges a fixed tuition per term rather than per credit hour. Students may move more quickly through core FNP coursework before moving onto time-set clinical components. 

Tuition: $6,525/six-month term 

Program Length: 24 to 30 months for most students 

Number of Students Enrolled Online: 682 

Accreditation: CCNE 

Application Deadline: Rolling (Terms start the first of every month) 

Is Online Program Accreditation Important? 

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) provide accreditation to nursing programs that meet certain standards in areas like faculty qualifications, curricula, and graduate outcomes. 

This accreditation is important because it helps grant legitimacy and recognition to online university programs that maintain high standards of quality. 

How Do Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs Work? 

Typically, students enrolled in an online FNP program complete coursework and take tests in a virtual environment, either alone or as part of a group. Some programs operate via credit hours while others, like those at WGU, charge students a fixed tuition each term. Students can keep in touch with instructors or other advisors via email or video calls. 

Many—if not all—online FNP programs still require that students complete a certain number of in-person clinical hours to apply their skills and prove their understanding of the material. 

Working as a Family Nurse Practitioner 

Family nurse practitioners use their specialized skill set to treat patients of all ages, and many FNPs benefit from positive patient feedback. These nurse practitioners may work in hospitals, outpatient centers, private practices, educational facilities, and other settings. 

Additionally, FNPs can find a high degree of professional and personal fulfillment as they advance to more and more lucrative roles while expanding their skills. Some continue their education by earning advanced certifications or attending work conferences. 

As you prepare for the next step in your career, be sure to consider these top online FNP programs. 

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