The 2020 Guide to Online Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Programs

Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) is both a rewarding and potentially lucrative career move for Registered Nurses (RNs) looking to further their medical career without fully committing to the doctoral path. The FNP role goes beyond the typical RN experience with added responsibilities and authority to diagnose, treat, counsel, and (in some states) even prescribe medication.

Pursuing an FNP certification may be surprisingly feasible for full-time, working nurses. Individuals that already have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and an RN license can pursue a FNP career through part-time higher education offerings that combine an online family nurse practitioner program and 500-750 supervised clinical hours. The emergence of online FNP programs has made obtaining a degree while holding down a career a much more feasible possibility.

Jumpstart Your Career in Nursing, Explore Online FNP Programs:

Become an FNP, Explore Georgetown University’s Online Master’s in Nursing
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Prepare to Become an Family Nurse Practitioner with USC's Online MSN Program
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Prepare for Certification as an FNP, Explore Simmons University
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This hybrid approach is tailor-made for RNs looking to take the next step in their medical careers without having to leave their jobs to do so. It takes almost a year longer to complete this type of part-time path compared to a dedicated full-time FNP program, but the ability to work while studying is a major plus for those unwilling to take unpaid time away from their current jobs.

The Online FNP Program Experience

FNP programs online allow you to trade traditional classroom learning time for virtual lessons and activities - often without compromising the integrity of the coursework. These courses can be completed remotely with some combination of a computer, internet access, a microphone, and a webcam. Instead of attending lectures and sharing physical classroom space with peers, these tech tools become the conduit to both information and collaboration.

Ever wondered what the differences between Nurse Practitioner and Doctor of Nursing Practice are? Learn more about NP vs DNP!

When opting for an online FNP program, you can expect:

  • A virtual classroom experience: Just because you and your classmates aren’t in the same place, doesn’t mean you miss out on the collaboration and value of the face-to-face experience. Most online courses involve some degree of purposeful digital interaction between students, instructors, and peers to help make the digital classroom feel more like its analog cousin.
  • A centralized digital learning environment: Your coursework, recorded lectures, and supplemental materials will be provided through the school’s learning management system of choice. This is also where you can expect to find important course announcements and discussion forums.
  • Dynamic course content: One of the major benefits of digital curriculum is the ease with which multimedia and interactivity can be integrated into the learning experience. There will be plenty of reading, but online courses usually involve additional content like video, supplemental links, and progress checks to enhance the coursework.
  • Portability: Online courseware allows students the freedom to complete their work wherever they can get online. This makes it easier for students to dive into their materials whenever they have the time to do so, regardless of their location. Be advised however, some digital materials may not run on all platforms.
  • Tech Support: Any time you are relying on technology, you need to be prepared for potential problems. Schools know this and strive to provide on-demand technical support to make sure students can always access and engage with their digital courses.

It is important to remember that becoming an Family Nurse Practitioner still requires hours of on-site clinical work. That said, the ability to complete the academic portions of the certification remotely is a noteworthy convenience.

Furthermore, this type of distance learning potentially enables you to pursue your degree and FNP certification from a university or college that would otherwise be beyond your reach. Most of the nation’s top online FNP programs allow students to both complete coursework off-site and meet their clinical obligations locally rather than on or near the physical campus.

Online FNP Program Admissions Requirements

Getting accepted to many of the FNP programs online may require candidates to meet a base set of requirements including:

  • a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited university or college
  • an active registered nurse’s license in good standing
  • a minimum amount of work experience as an RN (amount varies by institution)
  • the ability to meet the particular FNP program’s required clinical and/or on-site practicum

Requirements may vary by program and school, but the bulk of these expectations parallel those set by the nursing licensing boards. Don’t expect requirements to differ too significantly between institutions.

While there are certainly pathways available to those who wish to become a FNP but have not met the aforementioned prerequisites, these avenues tend to involve full-time, on-site coursework rather than online fnp program coursework.

Online FNP Program Curriculum

The academic curriculum of an online Family Nurse Practitioner program typically starts with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from an accredited institution. These degrees involve coursework focused on topics such as:

  • lab-based science
  • medical study design, statistics, and analysis
  • best practices in the nursing field
  • holistic care of patients throughout their lifespan
  • global health issues
  • advanced nursing techniques and practice
  • pathophysiology
  • advanced pharmacology
  • workplace leadership

It is worth noting that medical certification boards require applicants to have actual, hands-on clinical experience beyond what they can earn from books and lectures. Therefore, while many of the credits that must be earned as a part of a MSN degree can be completed during an online FNP program, becoming an FNP does come with a substantial commitment to faculty-supervised clinical hours. The actual number of these hours varies by program, but certification from the American Nurses Association (ANA) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) requires a minimum of 500 hours.

During these clinical experiences, prospective FNPs are given opportunities to hone their skills by assessing and diagnosing of a wide variety of patients – similar the actual day-to-day demands of being an FNP. Not only does this bring text- and lecture-driven learning to life, but these clinical hours also foster the real-world clinical decision-making skills required of effective FNPs in the field.

Family Nurse Practitioner Career Outlook

An increasing number of Americans are turning to clinics and urgent care facilities that rely upon FNPs to deliver top-quality, cost-effective medical care. This has created a notable increase in demand for certified FNPs nationwide. At the same time, nurses are beginning to retire in record numbers as the baby boomer generation is starting to leave the workforce.

The combination of these two factors creates a strong outlook for those entering the FNP profession. Through 2027, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a strong 31% growth-rate for FNPs and similar careers requiring an MSN degree.

Some of the places where FNPs are and will continue to be in demand include:

  • hospitals
  • outpatient care centers
  • physician's offices
  • educational institutions

FNP salaries fluctuate based on where you choose to practice, but the median annual wages for a nurse practitioner in 2017 was $103,880, according to the BLS.

These figures make the combination of pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing degree and a Family Nurse Practitioner certificate a viable and worthwhile pursuit for Registered Nurses looking to improve both their career and fiscal standing.

Finding the Best Online Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Program For You

In searching for the best online FNP programs across the United States, it’s important to take into account the specific type of degree being offered, the clinical hours the program requires of it's students, and the credit requirements necessary to complete the program.

Featured Online FNP Programs

Featured Online FNP Programs
School Name Type of Degree Clinical Hours Required Credit Requirement
Georgetown University MS in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner 650 44
University of Southern California MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner 784 49
Simmons University MS in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner 672 48

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Online FNP Programs for 2019

We’ve compiled a list of the online FNP programs across the United States along with degree and program requirement information. An important component to any online degree program is their ability to provide top tier clinical placements as well as great online coursework. Any FNP online program worth it's salt will have a team of dedicated professionals working to match you with a medical center that meets your needs for clinical placement. Explore each program thoroughly to find out which will be the best suited FNP program online for you!

Online speech pathology programs in the United States
School Name Type of Degree Clinical Hours Required Credit Requirement
Ball State Universtiy MSN - FNP 690 47
Briar Cliff University MSN - FNP 540 51
Cedarville University MSN - FNP 600 44
Clarkson College MSN, FNP concentration N/A 47
Columbus State University MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner 765 44
Concordia University MSN - FNP 720 41
Delta State University MSN - FNP N/A 49
Duquesne University MS in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner 670 45
Frontier Nursing University MSN - FNP 675 61
George Washington University MSN - FNP 700 48
Georgetown University (sponsored) MS in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner 650 44
Gonzaga University MSN - FNP 660 47
Graceland University - Lamoni MSN - FNP 600 47
Husson University MSN-Family and Community Nurse Practitioner 516 48
Indiana State University MSN, FNP concentration 675 50
Maryville University-St. Louis MSN - FNP 745 50
MCPHS University MS in Nursing - FNP 630 42
Old Dominion University MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner N/A 49
Purdue University MSN - FNP 645 49
Regis University MSN - FNP 630 48
Rivier University M.S. Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner N/A 43
Sacred Heart University MSN - FNP 540 42
Samuel Merritt University MSN - FNP 630 49
Simmons University (sponsored) MS in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner 672 48
Stony Brook University MSN - FNP N/A 45
University of Cincinnati MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner 672 50
University of North Dakota MSN-FNP (with DNP option) 600 49
University of South Alabama MSN - FNP 600 45
University of Southern California MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner 784 49
University of Southern Mississippi MSN - FNP N/A 45
University of Texas - Arlington MSN - FNP 360 46
Upstate Medical University MSN - FNP N/A 51