Best Online Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Programs

Last Updated/Verified: Oct 6, 2021

Compare the 2021 Top Ranked Online FNP Programs

Family Nurse Practitioners get to treat and follow patients across the lifespan, from young to old and everything in between. It's no wonder that the FNP is one of the most popular nurse practitioner specialties. With the explosion of online programs in the last several years, finding the right FNP program has never been easier. Browse our rankings of the top online FNP programs below to get started. For more information, check out our rankings methodology.

1.
Spring Arbor University

Spring Arbor, MI

Overview:

Michigan's Spring Arbor University offers several innovative online programs for aspiring FNPs. Options including several traditional MSN programs as well as post-master's certificate pathways for current NPs and non-NPs.

Highlights:

  • Coursework delivered in a 7-1-7 model (7 week courses, 1 week break)
  • Christian-affiliated school
  • Small online class sizes
2.
Clarkson College

Omaha, NE

Overview:

With several patient-focused online Family Nurse Practitioner programs, Omaha's Clarkson College teaches nurses how to practice both independently and collaboratively.

Highlights:

  • Full-time and part-time schedules available
  • Private college
  • Clinicals in our near students' hometowns
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
3.
Gonzaga University

Spokane, WA

Overview:

As a leader in the field, Gonzaga University provides nurses with several unique online Family Nurse Practitioner programs. There is a post-bacc DNP pathway, as well as traditional and second-master's MSN tracks in the FNP specialty.

Highlights:

  • Several on-campus immersions may be required
  • MSN programs require 660 clinical hours
  • DNP program requires 1,000+ clinical hours
4.
Bradley University

Peoria, IL

Overview:

Looking for an online FNP program in Illinois? Bradley University offers a trifecta of online programs, including a post-master's certificate, an MSN, and a DNP in the specialty.

Highlights:

  • Asynchronous online courses offered
  • No campus residency requirement
  • Clinical hours completed with approved preceptors of choice
DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
5.
The George Washington University

Washington, DC

Overview:

DC's George Washington University has several FNP degree pathways amongst its impressive line-up of online programs. Whether you are interested in a post-master's certificate, an MSN, or a DNP, GW Online has you covered.

Highlights:

  • Private college
  • Part-time and full-time scheduling available
  • Some on-campus experiences may be required
6.
Morningside University

Sioux City, IA

Overview:

Sioux City, Iowa's Morningside University provides nurses with several FNP programs which utilize online learning. Students can choose from a post-master's certificate or a traditional MSN.

Highlights:

  • Flexible scheduling
  • Private college
  • 600 clinical/practicum hours required
MSN Programs
7.
Graceland University

Lamoni, IA

Overview:

Iowa's Graceland University is home to two high-quality online FNP programs: the MSN track, and the post-graduate certificate track. With a focus on lectures and clinicals, Graceland graduates are prepared to provide compassionate care to families and individuals.

Highlights:

  • Online programs have been offered since 2001
  • One campus visit may be required
  • Private college
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
8.
Wheeling University

Wheeling, WV

Overview:

Those looking for an online post-master's certificate or MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program can enroll in the offerings at West Virginia's Wheeling University. These online programs give students the necessary skills to become prolific FNPs.

Highlights:

  • Private college
  • Clinical/practicum requirements can be completed in the student's hometown
  • Some on-campus presentations may be required
Graduate Certificate ProgramsMSN Programs
9.
Georgia College

Milledgeville, GA

Overview:

Located in Milledgeville, Georgia College is home to an online MSN in the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty as well as a post-master's certificate. These flexible pathways are designed with convenience in mind and require minimal on-campus interactions.

Highlights:

  • Public 4-year college
  • Clinical rotations must be completed in the state of Georgia
  • Onsite Lab Immersion Week required for MSN students
10.
Kentucky Christian University

Grayson, KY

Overview:

Kentucky Christian University, located in Grayson, offers students an outstanding online Family Nurse Practitioner MSN program. This flexible distance learning program allows current nurses to continue working as they complete their studies.

Highlights:

  • Small cohorts
  • Spring and Fall start dates
  • Religion-based school
MSN Programs

What Is an Online Family Nurse Practitioner Program Like?

With many schools now offering Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) programs online, you may be curious about what it might be like to enroll in one – especially if you haven't experienced much distance-learning before. The first thing to know is that an online FNP program is educationally equivalent to a traditional, campus-based program. As long as the online program you choose is properly accredited by a respected agency such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), and approved by your state's Board of Nursing, you can rest assured that you will be getting the same great education as your in-class peers.

Choosing an Appropriate FNP Program

Finding the right family nurse practitioner program starts with the degree type you enter the program with. Some degree routes require a minimum degree to be eligible; for example, the post-graduate certificate pathway will require at least an MSN degree. Here are some options based on the nursing degree you currently hold.

If I Currently Have… Option 1 Option 2
BSN BSN to MSN Programs BSN to DNP Programs
MSN Post-Master’s Certificate MSN to DNP Programs

To see programs at each degree level, click the buttons below:

Choosing the best family nurse practitioner program for you also depends on your professional goals. Think of your long-term goals in terms of practice location, career advancement, and the job roles you are interested in. Specific degree types may dictate which roles you can hold, or at the very least, make it easier to move into the role you ultimately desire.

If you are still contemplating the right FNP pathway for you, try narrowing it down by defining your specific mission in working with families across the lifespan and align your degree choice with the best option to reach that goal. The following table will help guide you to the right degree pathway.

MSN Post-Master's Certificate DNP
I enjoy working directly with patients of all ages X X X
I already hold a graduate degree, but I wish to increase my skill set for providing excellent care to families X X
I feel called to teach at the university level X X
I want to advocate for at-risk families and be a leader in my facility X X X
I have ideas for clinically relevant research projects to improve the lives of children and adults X
My passion is to create and improve national health policies X
I wish to understand population-based health in order to improve healthcare outcomes for people across the nation X
I wish to guide healthcare law and ethics X
Now that you’ve been introduced to the degree options, there are a few other components to being enrolled in an online Family Nurse Practitioner program that you should know about. Check out our program guide below.
  1. Online Family Nurse Practitioner Program Admissions & Requirements by Degree Type
  2. Online FNP Program Classes and Curriculum
  3. Clinical Requirements and Certification

Online FNP Program Admissions

Admission to an online FNP program is not unlike the process for other graduate-level nursing programs. Keep in mind that there are a few pathways for aspiring FNPs, depending on the education level they already hold. Students can opt for a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN), a Post-Graduate Certificate, or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Each of these will require slightly different prerequisites, which can differ from school to school. In general, you'll need the following to enroll in each FNP program pathway. Always check your school of choice for exact requirements.

MSN-Level FNPPost-Master’s Certificate FNPDNP-Level FNP
Prior Education/GPAHold a BSN from an accredited institution; typical minimum GPA of 3.0Hold an MSN from an accredited institution; typical minimum GPA of 3.0A BSN or MSN from an accredited institution; typical minimum GPA of 3.0
RN LicensureCurrent, unrestricted United States RN licenseCurrent, unrestricted U.S. RN license; certification as an APRN or Nurse PractitionerCurrent, unrestricted United States RN license
ExperienceAt least one year of professional nursing experience typically requiredOne year or more of professional nursing experience; prior graduate coursework prerequisitesOne year or more of professional nursing experience
Written RequirementsPersonal essay or statement of interest may be requiredPersonal essay or statement of interest may be requiredPersonal essay or statement of professional goals; professional letters of recommendation

Online FNP Curriculum & Classes

Online FNP programs have robust curricula that expose students to graduate-level core courses as well as specialty courses designed specifically for the future family nurse practitioner. Coursework for family nurse practitioner MSN and post-master’s certificate programs are similar in that the focus is primarily on nurse practitioner core classes and concentrated courses in both pediatric and adult healthcare. DNP students will also complete advanced courses in:

  • Ethics
  • Biostatistics
  • Research
  • Epidemiology

Other examples of FNP coursework includes:

  • Pediatric Health Promotion & Assessment
  • Management of Complex Health Problems
  • Problems in Family Primary Care
  • Advanced Practice Nursing in Primary Care of the Adult
  • Clinical Decision-Making for the Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Essential Care for the Childbearing Year
  • Community-Based Research
  • Health Care Policy

A final thesis highlighting patient-level family healthcare issues, integration of evidence-based standards of care, and health promotion may be required for MSN students. DNP students typically complete a capstone project, which is a process where students utilize their understanding of advanced FNP coursework related to population-based health, technology, evidence-based clinical practice, and health care policy. This DNP scholarly project typically focuses on a real-world clinical issue or question.The number of credits an FNP student must complete will depend on the degree level they choose (MSN, Post-Grad Certificate, DNP) as well as their prior education and whether they choose full-time or part-time study.In general:

  • MSN-FNP programs take roughly 2-3 years to complete
  • Post-Master’s Certificate FNP programs take 1-2 years to complete
  • DNP-FNP programs can take anywhere from 3 to 7 years to complete

Family nurse practitioner MSN, post-grad certificate, and DNP programs differ in both the number of course credits and the number of clinical hours required.

DegreeMSNPost-Master’s CertificateDNP
Average Credit Requirements412968

Both MSN to DNP and BSN to DNP programs are common, with the latter essentially combining MSN and DNP credit requirements.

FNP Clinical Requirements

Family Nurse Practitioner programs, including online programs, generally include a clinical portion comprised of a minimum amount of clinical practice hours. The number of hours needed will depend on the degree level and your state's guidelines, and can range from 600-1100 hours. Clinical experience hours are sometimes broken out into clinical hours and direct patient care hours.To meet these clinical requirements, students are matched with preceptors that are often pre-approved by the school. If the online program is based outside of the student's local area, arrangements can usually be made for the student to complete their clinical hours at an agreed-upon local preceptor site. In addition to this, currently employed RNs are often able to complete their clinical requirements at their place of employment (typically outside of paid working hours). FNP students are encouraged to complete their clinical requirements in a setting with an experienced FNP, although students can also complete their requirements with the following preceptors:

  • Nurse Practitioners with board certification in areas such as pediatrics, women's health, geriatrics, etc.
  • Medical Doctors (MDs) with family or internal medicine practices
  • Certified Nurse-Midwives who hold a minimum of an MSN
  • Physician Assistants who hold a minimum of an MSN

For questions about clinical requirements or settings, students can reach out to their program or department's clinical coordinator.