Best Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Programs

Last Updated/Verified: Sep 19, 2022

Compare the 2021 Top Ranked Online PNP Programs

Providing medical care to children is a calling for many nurses. For those looking into advanced practice nursing roles, the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) is a special role. Finding the right program to complete a PNP degree at the MSN, post-master's certificate, or DNP level is of utmost importance. With the emergence of online programs, the academic field is even more saturated with possibilities. This is why we've ranked the top online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner programs across the country. Browse the top schools below, and find out more about our rankings methodology.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, AL


The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an exceptional online MSN with several pediatric tracks: the Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, the Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, or a dual track that encompasses both. All programs provide nurses with didactic theory and clinical experiences to give them the skills and knowledge needed to succeed.



  • Online coursework with 4 on-campus intensives
  • Part-time program
  • Clinicals completed over several successive semesters
The University of Texas at Arlington

Arlington, TX


The University of Texas at Arlington is home to an online MSN Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with Primary Care and Acute Care specializations. These programs emphasize research and theoretical principles.


  • Primary Care track can be completed in 29-33 months
  • Acute Care track can be completed in 31-35 months
  • Not all programs are available in each state
University of South Alabama

Mobile, AL


The University of South Alabama, located in Mobile, offers both a Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner MSN as well as a Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner MSN. These online programs prepare students for advanced practice or for future DNP studies.



  • Hospital-affiliated school
  • Mandatory Clinical Skills Intensive required
  • Both tracks require a total of 45 credit hours
Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Natchitoches, LA


The online MSN Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program through Northwestern State University of Louisiana teaches students to provide high-level pediatric care through core courses, clinical courses, practicum experiences, and more.


  • 42 total credits required
  • No GRE required
  • Students can begin courses any semester
Creighton University

Omaha, NE


Omaha's Creighton University offers a Post-Graduate Certificate in Nursing in the Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specialty. This online program helps nurses build their skills in the world of advanced-practice pediatrics.


  • Nurse Faculty Loan Program available
  • January and May enrollment dates
  • 3.0 minimum GPA required
DNP ProgramsGraduate Certificate Programs

What Is an Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program Like?

For nurses who are passionate about providing health care to little ones, enrolling in an online pediatric nurse practitioner program can be a great way to further your nursing career and work with the patient population that you love. Choosing an online pediatric nurse practitioner program can be a great fit if you want to continue excelling in your job while also moving forward with your education. When you choose an online NP program, you get to work at a pace that makes sense for you, on your own time. Faculty members understand the demands of your job and will work hard to help you make your education happen while continuing to provide top-notch patient care.

Choosing an Appropriate Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program

The right pediatric nurse practitioner program for you will first depend on the level of nursing education you currently hold. Check out the table below to see what your options are for the degree level you will be going into the program with.

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:

Your long-term career goals will also impact which pediatric nurse practitioner degree type is right for you. Think in terms of the job title, type of care delivery, and environment you aspire to work in. While it’s true that you can always go back for more education, determining your professional goals will save you the stress and hassle of having to go back to school later – which can also save you money.

To get a better sense of your goals, consult the table below to see what pediatric nurse practitioner degree types align with your passions. 

MSN Post-Master's Certificate DNP
I enjoy working directly with pediatric patients X X X
I already hold a graduate degree, but I wish to move into specialized pediatric practice X X
I feel called to teach at the university level X X
I want to advocate for children and nurses and be a leader in my facility X X X
I have ideas for clinically relevant research projects to improve the lives of children X
My passion is to create and improve national health policies X
I wish to understand population-based pediatric health in order to improve healthcare outcomes for children across the nation X
I want to guide healthcare law and ethics for the benefit of children X
No matter the degree type, be sure to choose an accredited online program. Organizations such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) are the ones to look for while researching online programs. When you choose an accredited program, you’re getting an education that has been properly vetted by an organization respected by healthcare professionals. Choosing an accredited program lets you know that you’re getting an education that has been backed by the latest research in the field. During your accredited online pediatric nurse practitioner program, you’ll learn about global health populations, infant/child/adolescent health, clinical pharmacology, health systems and social policy, physical assessment, and more. See our online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program guide below.
  1. Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program Admissions & Requirements by Degree Type
  2. Online Pediatric NP Program Classes and Curriculum
  3. Clinical Requirements and Certification

Online Pediatric NP Program Admissions

When applying for an online pediatric NP program, you’ll want to carefully go over the admissions criteria. It’s a good idea to apply to a few different programs (and your employer may even cover your application fees). Online pediatric NP programs fall into three categories: MSN, post-master’s certificate, and DNP.

MSN-Level Pediatric NPPost-Master’s Certificate Pediatric NPDNP-Level Pediatric NP
Prior Education/GPABSN with a GPA of at least 3.0MSN with a GPA of at least 3.0MSN with a GPA of at least 3.0, some DNP programs may allow you to do a BSN-DNP track with a GPA of at least 3.0
RN Licensure Current, unencumbered RN licenseCurrent, unencumbered RN licenseCurrent, unencumbered RN license, may also require APRN certification in pediatrics or related field. Experience in the field may be acceptable.
Professional ExperienceOne year of work as an RNOne year of work as an RN; may also require one year of experience working in pediatrics or related fieldOne to two years of work as an RN; may also require up to two years of experience working in pediatrics or related field
Written RequirementsPersonal statement, three letters of recommendationPersonal statement, three letters of recommendationPersonal statement, three letters of recommendation

Online Pediatric NP Curriculum & Classes

Each program (MSN, post-master’s certificate, and DNP) will differ on the length of time needed to complete them. The MSN will take around 2 years, the post-grad cert can usually be completed in a few semesters, and the doctoral DNP program can take 3 more years of full-time study. Pediatric specialty MSN, post-master’s certificate, and DNP programs differ in both the number of course credits and the number of clinical hours required.

Both MSN to DNP and BSN to DNP programs are available. BSN to DNP programs typically wrap the MSN content into the program. Many students choose to go through their studies part-time, allowing them to remain dedicated to patient care while also earning their graduate degree or certificate. Most schools allow up to six years for nurses to complete the DNP program, and may also allow this amount of time to complete the MSN program or the post-master’s certificate. As you complete your online pediatric nurse practitioner curriculum, some of the classes you’ll likely be required to take include:

  • Nursing research
  • Advanced pharmacotherapeutics
  • Advanced pathophysiology for neonatal & pediatric health
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Primary healthcare of children: chronic illness & disabilities
  • Health systems, policy & social justice

Pediatric NP post-grad certificate and MSN programs provide similar content, with the post-grad certificate requiring less core coursework. Both the MSN and DNP pathways will require students to take some leadership, and policy coursework. DNP students also typically take coursework in ethics, biostatistics, and more. The DNP route will also typically include a capstone course or final project. This scholarly project is a way for the student to demonstrate what they’ve learned in the program, and aims to address a clinical question as it relates to pediatric care.

Pediatric NP Clinical Requirements

Most clinical programs require that you complete at least 600 clinical hours. Many programs, particularly the DNP, require more; over 1,000 may ultimately be required. Your program will likely be willing to work with you to help you find a way to meet your requirements that makes sense for your schedule. This may mean getting some of your clinical hours at your regular job, working at more than one setting, or working with an in-home health agency to get the experience that you need. You can also complete clinical hours at youth rehabilitation centers, private healthcare facilities, and more. If you’re struggling to find a way to complete your clinical hours that makes sense for you, be sure to reach out to your program advisor. They understand how difficult it can be to balance your education and your busy schedule, and they’ll help you find ways to get the clinical experience that you need to be successful in your program.