August 9, 2022

Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs 2023

Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs 2023

Online nurse practitioner programs are hybrid programs that offer a registered nurse the chance to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) as a nurse practitioner (NP). While there are many factors to consider when choosing one, the main factor for many of us is, “How much does it cost?”

If you’re looking to become an NP while spending as little money as possible, we’ve rounded up the cheapest online nurse practitioner programs for 2023. 

Fast Facts about Nurse Practitioners

Salary  $120,680 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
Program length 2-3 years
Requirements A minimum of two years of nursing experience
  • ADN or BSN
  • RN license 
  • GRE if applicable
  • TOEFL test if applicable

Cheapest Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

NP programs can vary widely in cost, ranging from around $30K for the whole program to over $100K, so you’ll want to choose something you can actually afford. 

According to the BLS, NPs make an average annual salary of $120,680, so while you will make a comfortable living, if the cost of your education is also over $100K, it could take quite some time before you are able to pay down your loans, especially if you have other financial obligations (and really, who doesn’t?) 

Here are some of the most affordable online Nurse Practitioner programs for 2023-2024 ranked by price, as well as instructor quality, student success, engagement, and student opinions.  

1. Southeastern Louisiana University

Cost per credit hour: $286.03

Southeastern Louisiana University offers Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner tracks. It’s important to know that all clinical hours must be completed in Louisiana. 

2. The University of Alabama

Cost per credit hour: $440 

There are currently three tracks offered including Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Dual Psychiatric Mental Health and Family Nurse Practitioner. 

The programs are available 100% online, with clinical sites chosen by you and two on-campus sessions that have to be completed over the course of the study. 

Currently, only residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia are eligible for the Nurse Practitioner concentrations.

3. Briar Cliff University

Cost per credit hour: $525

Three tracks are offered at Briar Cliff University including Family Nurse Practitioner, an Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, or Psychiatric Mental Health Care Practitioner.

4. The University of Mississippi

Cost per credit hour: $525

The University of Mississippi’s School of Nursing is a nationally ranked program that offers flexible Nurse Practitioner programs in both online and hybrid formats.  

It also has a very impressive number of NP programs including: Acute Care Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Acute/Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

5. Stony Brook University

Cost per credit hour: $471

Programs at Stony Brook allow for students to graduate with either an MSN or DNP degree which are offered through online distance education with on-site requirements. 

Available programs include Adult-Gerontology Primary Care, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care, Family Health, Women’s Health, Neonatal Health, Pediatric Primary Care, Pediatric Acute Care, and Psychiatric Mental Health.

6. The University of Texas at Arlington

Cost per credit hour: $654

Programs at the University of Texas at Arlington are some of the most popular amongst nursing students. 

Currently, there are five different specialty area options, including Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

7. Mercer University

Cost per credit hour: $725 per credit

The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) track at Mercer University requires students to complete 48-course hours and 660 clinical hours.

8. The University of West Florida

Cost per credit hour: $500 

Started in 1963, the program takes 27 months to complete with 600 required clinical hours. FNP students have to attend an on-campus summer immersion orientation prior to starting their clinicals. 

9. Cedarville University

Cost per credit hour: $623 

Cedarville boasts one of the best online FNP programs in Ohio. Like similar online programs, students have to attend several on-campus learning experiences but with a low cost per credit hour - this program is worth it.

10. Bradley University 

Cost per credit hour: $990

This program is 100% online from Bradley University and allows students to earn an FNP degree in as little as 26 months. Bradley is also ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 7th best regional university in the Midwest and 15th best value school. 

What to Expect in an Online NP Program

So if you’ve been out of school for a while, you might be wondering: what exactly should you expect out of an online NP program? Well, much like your original nursing school degree, you’ll get a mixture of class time, coursework, and hands-on clinical learning. 

The main difference, of course, is that, because your program is online, all of your class time and instruction time will be online as well. Here’s how the process of an online nursing school program will go:


The first step in going to NP school online will be submitting your application. Depending on the school you choose, the application process can be a bit intensitive, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for what you’ll need before you apply. If you’re applying at the same school you attended for undergraduate, the process can be a little easier, since they’ll already have access to your transcripts. If not, you’ll need a little bit more additional paperwork. Most schools will require the following as part of the application process:

  • Application fee
  • Completed application with information like your name, address, etc.
  • Complete undergraduate transcripts for any school you attended
  • Copy of your nursing license
  • Resume (most schools will require you to have at least one 1 year of experience as a nurse, although there may be exceptions for this)
  • Letter of intent
  • 3 references
  • Copy of your driver’s license

Most MSN-NP programs don’t require the GRE, but if it’s required, you’ll also have to submit those scores. In addition to your application, you’ll want to complete a FAFSA for any financial aid you’ll be eligible for or loans you’ll need to take out. 

There may also be additional program-specific information or requirements; for instance, some schools may require an interview or proof you’ve taken certain undergraduate classes, like statistics within the last 7 years, to be eligible.

Welcome Weekend

Some schools may kick off your online NP program with what’s called a “welcome weekend,” in which they bring online students to gather in-person for an introduction to the program, pass out required materials, and provide an orientation.

This is not a requisite and is only school-specific, but be sure to check if your school requires this before enrolling. Some schools may also have similar in-person events, called “immersion weeks” throughout the program so, again, check what in-person requirements there are with your course of choice.


As we mentioned, all of your coursework with an online NP program will be online. That will include:

  • Virtual classes
  • Virtual educational information (slides, presentations, etc.)
  • Homework
  • Discussion boards
  • Submission of your own work, including research papers, essays, etc. 

If you’re full-time, you can expect anywhere from 2-4 classes per semester and the amount of time you will need to dedicate to studying and homework could be anywhere from 12-24 hours per week. 

Everyone is different, but you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time, especially in the beginning and/or it’s been a while since you’ve been in school.

Program Structure

Online nurse practitioner programs are more popular than ever because they allow for more flexibility in class schedules and are ideal for working students and students with other responsibilities, like family members to care for. 

However, despite the fact that they are “online,” any nurse practitioner program you choose that’s online is going to be 100% online--although the course work might be completely virtual-based, there will still be a clinical portion that will be required hands-on, in-person learning. 

Depending on how the school is set up, this could be a clinical requirement at the school, at a facility near the school that they have a partnership with, or it could be something that you set up on your own. For instance, some online NP programs will have you do all your coursework online, then you set up a clinical “internship” with a practicing NP near you--you complete preset requirements and clinical work that the NP monitors and checks off as you complete them, and submit to the school as your clinical aspect. 

Some programs may also offer a virtual portion of clinicals, such as teaching the skills remotely, then require you to complete a set amount of hours in-person to carry out and practice the skills. 

Other programs may host additional in-person requirements, such as an “immersion weekend” where skills are taught, and still, others may have other onsite requirements, so be sure to check all of the course requirements carefully before choosing.

Clinical Work

The clinical portion of your NP program is crucial to your success as an NP. Similar to how a BSN program is structured, you’ll start your NP program with 1-2 semesters of coursework only, then move into the clinical portion. The clinical portion usually consists of around 500 clinical hours that involve you shadowing and working side-by-side with a preceptor as you learn and practice your clinical skills. 

Every program will have different requirements for the clinical hours and will structure them differently. Some online NP programs set up their own clinicals, so you’ll be required to go through the school and work with a healthcare facility and NP they have partnered with, while others let you set up your own. If you have a provider in mind that you’d like to be your preceptor, be sure to speak to the school ahead of time to ensure that choosing your own preceptor is allowed.


Finally, in order to become an official NP, you’ll need to pass your national certifying exam. According to the BLS, there are a few certifying organizations, with the two most common being from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The exam is called either FNP: AANPCB or FNP-AANC, depending on which credentialing center you go through. 

If you’ve chosen the pediatric NP route, your exam might be through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB). However, no matter which route you choose, even once you pass your exam, you’ll need to renew your NP periodically too, just like any healthcare professional. 

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