Easiest Nurse Practitioner Specialty Programs to Get Into

9 Min Read Published May 16, 2024
Easiest Nurse Practitioner Specialty Programs

There are more than 385,000 licensed nurse practitioners (NP) in the US(1), working in dozens of specialties. However, some NP specialties are easier to get into than others. 

This guide explores the five easiest nurse practitioner specialties to get into and the program requirements for each. 

Popular Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs

Sponsored
Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

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

What Makes a Nurse Practitioner Program Easier to Get Into?

You must earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree to become an NP. These programs can be long, tedious, and challenging to balance with a job and other responsibilities. 

With the number of NPs nationwide rising, programs are becoming increasingly competitive. Luckily, several nurse practitioner specialties are more accessible than others.

NP Specialty Demand

Ultimately, the easiest NP programs to get into specialize in high-demand fields with many job openings. For example, emergency room (ER) NPs are in higher demand than saturated fields like aesthetics and cosmetics. 

Program Availability

Additionally, NP specialties with more programs will be easier to get into. Since there are more adult-gerontology (AG) NP programs than oncology, becoming an AGNP is more accessible.

What Are The Easiest Nurse Practitioner Programs to Get Into?

1. Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) Programs

The easiest nurse practitioner specialty to get into is psychiatric mental health, also called a PMHNP. Currently, there is an increased demand for PMHNPs caused by rising mental health and substance abuse concerns nationwide.

PMHNPs specialize in mental health treatment, including patients with mental illness, disorders, and substance abuse problems. Primarily, they assess, diagnose, and provide treatment plans for these patients.

Other PMHNP duties include:

  • Diagnosing and treating mental health disorders, illness, and crises
  • Prescribing medications and titrating to effect
  • Providing therapy
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals
  • Educating patients and families on mental health disorders
  • Providing care to individuals with substance abuse problems

Program Requirements

Each nurse practitioner program will have its own specific standards. However, general PMHNP program requirements include the following:

  • BSN from an accredited nursing school
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Two years of full-time, relevant, psychiatric bedside experience
  • Current, unencumbered RN license
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts from all undergraduate programs
  • GRE, if applicable
  • Personal statement
  • Interview
  • Resume 

Our Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs by State guide can help you find a PMHNP school near you.

>> Show Me Online Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs

2. Emergency Room Nurse Practitioner Programs

Emergency room nurse practitioners are in high demand to cover large urban ERs and smaller, rural ones. According to the CDC, there were over 139.8 million ER visits, with 18.3 million admissions. Medical doctors alone cannot handle this volume, putting ER NPs in exceptionally high demand.

Specific job responsibilities for ER NPs include:

  • Delivering care to patients in emergency settings
  • Resuscitating patients
  • Prioritizing and triaging patients
  • Coordinating transfer of care
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies
  • Prescribing medication and therapies

Program Requirements

Unlike other NP specialties, there are no ER NP degree programs. Instead, you must acquire a post-graduate ER NP certification. Schools that offer these certificate courses often require the following:

  • Current, unencumbered RN license
  • Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) license
  • National Certification
  • Prescriptive Authority license
  • Personal statement
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • CV/Resume
  • Interview
  • Transcripts

Popular Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs

Sponsored
Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

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

3. Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) Programs

Primary and acute care adult-gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNPs) comprise just 15% of the NP workforce. This number is relatively small for practitioners caring for an aging population.

PRB predicts that the number of Americans over 65 will grow from 58 million in 2022 to 82 million by 2050 (a 47% increase). Thus, AGNPs, who receive specific training to care for this patient population, will be in more demand than ever.

Specific adult-gerontology NP duties include:

  • Analyzing & interpreting patient symptoms, diagnostic information, and health histories
  • Developing diagnoses and comprehensive treatment plans
  • Prescribing medication
  • Educating patients on diagnosis, treatment options, and medications
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests 
  • Diagnosing and treating common acute healthcare problems
  • Evaluating patient treatment efficacy
  • Collaborating with other healthcare providers

Program Requirements

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Current RN license in the state of the program
  • Bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited nursing program
  • Official transcripts
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Relevant bedside nursing experience
  • CV/Resume

>> Show Me Online Adult-Gerontology NP Programs

4. Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Programs

Neonatal nurse practitioners possess a particular skill subset and treat an exceedingly specific patient population. Therefore, they're in high demand, especially considering how few NNP programs are available.

Additionally, significant increases in NICU technology allow medical professionals to push the age of viability and save earlier preterm babies. Due to the increased number of neonatal patients, healthcare facilities will need NNPs to fill staffing voids.

Specific neonatal nurse practitioner responsibilities include:

  • Treating neonates and newborns with medical conditions
  • Collaborating with neonatologists and other healthcare providers
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Starting and maintaining IV lines (e.g., central catheters and umbilical lines)
  • Participating in high-risk newborn transport
  • Ordering or performing procedures like intubation or central line placement
  • Monitoring specialized equipment (e.g., incubators, ventilators, dialysis)

Program Requirements

While specific standards vary by institution, most NNP programs require the following:

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Current RN license in the state of the program
  • Bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited nursing program
  • Official transcripts
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Relevant bedside neonatal nursing experience
  • CV/Resume
  • Background and fingerprint clearances
  • Physical and immunizations

5. Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Programs

Family nurse practitioner programs are easier to get into, mainly because there are so many. You can attend an FNP program in person, online, or in a hybrid format and earn either an MSN or DNP degree.

The downside of this NP specialty is that finding a position can be challenging since several FNPs graduate each year. However, getting into a program is relatively easy.

Specific family nurse practitioner duties include:

  • Managing care of patients of all ages, including infants, children, teens, and adults
  • Collaborating with specialists and other healthcare providers
  • Prescribing medication and titrating to effect
  • Ordering diagnostic labs and tests and analyzing results
  • Performing health assessments
  • Conducting sick visits
  • Patient & family education
  • Developing treatment plans

Program Requirements

While specific standards vary by institution, most FNP programs require the following:

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Current RN license in the state of the program
  • Bachelor’s degree from a nationally accredited nursing program
  • Official transcripts
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Relevant bedside nursing experience (can be pediatric or adult)
  • CV/Resume
  • Background and fingerprint clearances
  • Physical and immunizations

>> Show Me Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs

Next Steps

Becoming a nurse practitioner requires advanced schooling and a serious time commitment, regardless of specialty. 

Some NP specialty programs are vigorously competitive, while others have a higher acceptance rate. Ultimately, the ease at which you get into an NP program depends on the school, the program, and your qualifications. 

However, with over 500 accredited NP programs nationwide, you have plenty of options to expand your career and achieve your goals.

Popular Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Programs

Sponsored
Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

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

  1.  American Association of Nurse Practitioners
Kathleen Gaines
MSN, RN, BA, CBC
Kathleen Gaines
News and Education Editor

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

Read More From Kathleen
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