June 20, 2024

Top Direct-Entry Nurse Practitioner Programs

Top Direct-Entry NP Programs | Nurse.org

What is a Direct-Entry Nurse Practitioner Program? 

Direct-entry nurse practitioner (NP) programs are for students with a non-nursing bachelor's degree who want to begin a career as a nurse practitioner faster than in a traditional program. You’re able to earn both a bachelor of nursing (BSN) and a master's in nursing (MSN) at the same time by combining the two in an accelerated program.

Every program is unique. Some MSN programs bypass a BSN for an MSN alone while still allowing students to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). However, most programs include earning a BSN.

Although most direct-entry programs on this list result in obtaining an MSN, some require obtaining a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) prior to graduation.

Popular Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Walden University
Walden’s online programs for nursing meet rigorous standards for academic quality and integrity, and the School of Nursing teaching faculty all hold doctorates. With three degree completion options, you can choose a bachelor’s in nursing path that makes sense for your busy, unpredictable schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY, RI and CT. Certain programs have additional state restrictions. Check with Walden for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

Direct-Entry Nurse Practitioner Program Ranking Methodology 

Our ranking algorithm uses the latest and most robust U.S. government data sets, specifically the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and College Scorecard. We take into consideration factors such as graduation rate, student-faculty ratio, program focus, accreditation, and more to help you find the right nursing program for you.

Top Direct-Entry Nurse Practitioner Programs 

School Tuition Online Options?
Yale University, West Haven, CT  $69,831 per year No
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN $1,997 per credit hour     No
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA $142,749 for the program No
The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Ohio Resident: $9,682 per semester, Non-Ohio Resident: $22,982 per semester

Hybrid 
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Ohio Resident: $836 per credit hour, Non-Ohio Resident: $1,423 per credit hour

Hybrid 
Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI $63,000 for the program Hybrid
University of Rochester, Rochester, NY $1,680 per credit hour Hybrid
Simmons University, Boston, MA 

Pre-licensure: $1,559 per credit hour, Post-licensure: $1,235 per credit hour

Hybrid
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 

In-state: $16,280, Out-of-state: $42,724

Hybrid
Northeastern University, Boston, MA

$2,031 per credit hour

No

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1. Yale University, West Haven, CT

Tuition
$69,831 per year
Program Length
3 years
Accreditation
CCNE
Online Options Available?
No

Yale’s graduate entry pre-specialty in nursing (GEPN) program is an accelerated three-year program that allows nursing students to practice as nurse practitioners much faster than in traditional programs. 

This intensive, year-round, full-time study program combines primary nursing practice with advanced nursing practice. Students complete the GEPN portion in one year and then advance immediately into their desired concentration. 

Concentrations offered:

  • Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
  • Nurse-Midwifery
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Primary Care
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care
  • Psychiatric - Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

Additional program information:

  • Application deadline:
    • Priority: November 1st
    • Final: March 1st
  • Contact info: 
    • Email: laura.andrews@yale.edu
  • Website

2. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Tuition
$1,997 per credit hour
Program Length
6 semesters
Accreditation
CCNE
Online Options Available?
No

At Vanderbilt University, students with no nursing background can become nurse practitioners through their pre-specialty master’s entry program. Students must already have a bachelor's degree in another field.

Students start with three semesters of bachelor's-level nursing classes before continuing with their NP specialty classes. If attending the program full-time, students can usually complete the remainder of their programs in an additional three semesters.

After completing the pre-specialty courses, students will enter additional courses within their declared specialty to earn an MSN. During the three semesters of the pre-specialty year, students will need to complete 700 hours in various clinical settings. 

Concentrations offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner 
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner/ AGPCNP
  • Nurse-Midwifery/Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - Acute Care

Additional program information:

  • Application deadline: October 15th
  • Contact info: 
    • Email: vusn-admissions@vanderbilt.edu
    • Phone number:  (888) 333-9192
  • Website

3.  University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Tuition
$142,749 for the entire program 
Program Length
15 months
Accreditation
CCNE
Online Options Available?
No

This Ivy League University offers students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field the opportunity to learn and study from some of the leaders in the nursing field. Students will participate in clinicals at top teaching hospitals and become prepared to handle anything. 

Concentrations Offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner

Additional program information:

  • Application deadline: 
    • Priority: November 4th
    • Final: February 3rd
  • Contact info: 
    • Phone number: (215) 898-4271
    • Email Address: admissions@nursing.upenn.edu
  • Website

Popular Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Walden University
Walden’s online programs for nursing meet rigorous standards for academic quality and integrity, and the School of Nursing teaching faculty all hold doctorates. With three degree completion options, you can choose a bachelor’s in nursing path that makes sense for your busy, unpredictable schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY, RI and CT. Certain programs have additional state restrictions. Check with Walden for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

4. The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Tuition

Ohio Resident: $9,682 per semester 
Non-Ohio Resident: $22,982 per semester

Program Length
3 years
Accreditation
CCNE
Online Options Available?
Hybrid

The graduate-entry nursing program and OSU allow students with a bachelor's degree in a different field to earn an MSN in nursing and become nurse practitioners.

Students are first required to complete prerequisite courses before starting the MSN program. The OSU graduate entry program is an intensive, full-time, year-round, three-year program. While there are two application dates, not all concentrations offer two acceptance windows, so keep this in mind when applying. 

Concentrations offered:

  • Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Additional program information:

  • Application deadline:
    • Round 1: October 15th
    • Round 2: March 1st
  • Contact info: 
    • Email: nursing@osu.edu
    • Phone number: (614) 292-4041
  • Website

5. University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

Tuition

Ohio Resident: $836 per credit hour
Non-Ohio Resident: $1,423 per credit hour

Program Length
5 semesters
Accreditation
CCNE
Online Options Available?
Hybrid

Students with a bachelor's degree in another field can earn an MSN and become an NP in as few as five semesters at the University of Cincinnati. 

Human growth and development, statistics, and genetics are no longer required for admission. This can be important for students who graduated from college many years ago. It is also important to know that interested students will apply directly to NursingCAS instead of the University of Cincinnati.

Concentrations offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner 
  • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner 
  • Family Nurse Practitioner 
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Additional program information:

  • Application deadline: January 15th
  • Contact info:
    • Email: nursingbearcats@uc.edu
    • Phone number: (513) 558-3600
  • Website

6. Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI

Tuition
$63,000 for program
Program Length
19 to 21 months
Accreditation
CCNE
Online Options Available?
Hybrid

Marquette University's Direct Entry MSN program can help students with a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing quickly become NPs.

One of the benefits of Marquette's program is that it tailors to diverse learning styles in hybrid, online, and traditional coursework settings. Students can complete the program at an accelerated five-semester pace or slower in eight semesters.

Other benefits include:

  • A high-fidelity simulation center to practice in a safe environment 
  • Clinical rotations are located at top healthcare facilities in Metro Milwaukee, Southeast Wisconsin, and Northeast Illinois.

This program offers three start dates per year: January, May, and August.

Students earn a master’s degree in nursing upon graduation. Students who attend this program do not earn a BSN.

Concentrations offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Dual Primary Care and Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Additional program information:

  • Application deadline: Rolling deadline
  • Contact info: 
    • Phone number: (866) 891-8438
  • Website

7. University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Tuition
$1,740 per credit hour
Program Length
3 years
Accreditation
CCNE
Online Options Available?
Hybrid

The University of Rochester's accelerated master’s program for non-nurses helps students become NPs faster than traditional programs. Students must have a bachelor's degree in another field. 

The accelerated master's is a three-year, full-time, intensive program where students earn both a BSN and an MSN.

Concentrations offered

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Across the Lifespan
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) 
  • Pediatric Neonatal Nurse Practitioner 

Additional program information:

  • Application deadline: July 1st
  • Contact info: 
    • Email:  SON_Admissions@urmc.rochester.edu
    • Phone number: (585) 275-2375
  • Website

8. Simmons University, Boston, MA

Tuition
Pre-licensure: $1,559 per credit hour
Post-licensure: $1,235 per credit hour
Program Length
3 years
Accreditation
CCNE
Online Options Available?
Hybrid

The direct entry program at Simmons University awards students an MSN degree, not a BSN degree. Students are eligible to sit for the NCLEX between terms four and five. 

Simmons University students have access to some of the top hospitals in the nation, including Brigham and Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children's Hospital, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Concentrations offered

  • Family Nurse Practitioner 

Additional program information:

  • Application deadline: March 1st
  • Contact info: 
    • Email:  snhs@simmons.eduer.edu
    • Phone number: (617) 521-2605
  • Website

9. University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 

Tuition
In-state: $16,280
Out-of-state: $42,724
Program Length
4 years
Accreditation
CCNE 
Online Options Available?
Hybrid

The direct-entry DNP accelerated degree program prepares individuals with a baccalaureate degree in a field other than nursing to provide primary care as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

The program is a full-time, four-year program that enables students to earn a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP). It does take longer than other programs on the list as students are awarded a terminal DNP degree. 

Concentrations offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Additional program information:

  • Application: December 1st
  • Contact info: 
    • Email: graduate.admissions@uvm.edu
    • Phone number: (802) 656-2699
  • Website

10. Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Tuition
$2,031 per credit hour
Program Length
2 years
Accreditation
CCNE
Online Options Available?
No

Northeastern University's on-campus direct-entry nursing program allows students to become nurse practitioners by combining a non-nursing bachelor's degree with work experience. 

Students first complete an accelerated BSN and take the NCLEX-RN to become licensed as registered nurses. The first 16 months of the program prepare students with a BSN. 

Then, they continue their education to become APRNs in a specialty area. Students can choose between five concentrations, although it’s important to note that the Acute Care PNP is not eligible for the direct entry program. 

Concentrations offered:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care NP 
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care NP 
  • Family Nurse Practitioner 
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Additional program information:

  • Application deadline: June 1st
  • Contact info: 
    • Email: bouvegrad@northeastern.edu
    • Phone number: (617) 373-3649
  • Website

Popular Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Walden University

Earn your nursing degree from one of the largest nursing education providers in the U.S. Walden University’s BSN, MSN, post-master’s APRN certificate, and DNP programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Get enhanced practicum support with our Practicum Pledge.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY, RI and CT. Certain programs have additional state restrictions. Check with Walden for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

Top Direct-Entry Master's in Nursing Programs >> Top Nurse Practitioner Programs >> Affordable Online Nurse Practitioner Programs >>

Why Should You Consider a Direct-Entry Nurse Practitioner Program?

1. Many campuses have start dates in both the spring and fall

Select campuses have rolling admissions dates that start at various times throughout the year. 

2.  Part-time programs are available

Although direct-entry NP programs are intensive and full-time, some programs offer part-time options that help students who wish to work during their programs. It’s important to note that if you decide to complete a program on a part-time basis, there is usually a completion deadline (most allow 5 years). 

3. You increase your earning potential

By becoming an NP through a direct-entry program, students have the ability to earn significantly more than they would with a BSN alone. Additional benefits include:

  • Better advancement opportunities
  • More autonomy
  • Specialization in many different areas, including primary care, pediatrics, psychiatric care, women’s health, acute care, emergency care, geriatrics, and more.

Direct Entry Nurse Practitioner Program Courses

All direct-entry NP programs require a set number of courses, clinical hours, and other thesis work for graduation eligibility.

Class names will also vary depending on the institution. However, many programs will have courses involving studies in the following topics:

  • Health assessment & nursing skills with labs
  • Nursing with women and families with clinical hours
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology for advanced practice
  • Health and Illness Nursing Perspective
  • Adult nursing care of adults with clinical hours
  • Mental health with clinical hours
  • Nursing care for children with clinical
  • Healthcare research
  • Managing and leading in nursing
  • Healthcare ethics
  • Public Health Community Nursing with clinical hours

Graduate coursework is also determined by the student's chosen specialty. Students should be prepared to take one to two years of full-time specialty study after obtaining RN licensure.

Types of Direct-Entry Nurse Practitioner Program Specialties

Types of NP program specialties may include:

  • Geriatric care
  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s Health
  • Neonatal
  • Intensive care
  • Primary care
  • Psychiatric care
  • Neuro/Trauma
  • Liver and kidney transplant
  • Cardiac care
  • Emergency 
  • Aesthetic
  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Oncology
  • Orthopedic

Earn Your Nursing Degree Online
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FAQs About Direct-Entry Nurse Practitioner Programs 

  • Is a direct-entry nurse practitioner program right for you? 

    • If you have a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field but want to practice as a nurse practitioner, a direct-entry NP program may be the best choice for you! Direct-entry nurse practitioner (NP) programs allow students with a non-nursing bachelor's degree to pursue a career as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) faster than traditional programs.
  • Is a direct-entry MSN worth it? 

    • If you already have a bachelor's degree in another field, a direct MSN is faster and probably makes more sense than earning a BSN and MSN individually. Also, a direct-entry MSN ensures that you do not retake courses that you have already studied and may also be more cost-effective.
  • Can you go straight to MSN after RN?

    • Some universities offer an RN to MSN route that incorporates BSN coursework into the program. This type of program would make sense for a student who graduated with an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) from a two-year institution. 

 

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