EDUCATION
May 18, 2022

Top Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Programs

Top Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Programs
Kathleen Gaines
By: Kathleen Gaines News and Education Editor, MSN, RN, BA, CBC

Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNP) are at the forefront of healthcare taking care of some of the sickest and frailest patients in the country. This guide will help provide you with the information needed to understand the job responsibilities, tuition costs and curriculum, the top neonatal NP programs, and salary opportunities for neonatal NPs. 

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner >> Neonatal Nurse Salary Guide >> Highest Paying Jobs for MSN Nurses >>

Fast Facts about Neonatal Nurse Practitioners

Salary $120,680 per the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Program Length 2-5 years
Requirements
  • Minimum of two years of nursing experience in a Level III NICU within the last five years
  • Professional resume or curriculum vitae
  • Satisfactory completion of an accredited baccalaureate program with at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale
  • Unencumbered, active RN license in the state of practice 

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Top 10 Neonatal NP Programs 

Choosing a Neonatal NP program is a very large decision. Nurse.org has compiled a list of some of the best online and in-person Neonatal NP programs for 2022. This list takes numerous factors into consideration including location, graduation rate, cost, credit hours, as well as other factors.

1. Duke University 

  • Admissions: December 1st
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 43 credit hours and 616 clinical hours
  • Location: Distance-Based with in-person clinical experience 
  • Program Cost: $1,910 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (877) 415-3853
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: SonAdmissions@dm.duke.edu

2. University of Pennsylvania 

  • Admissions: Full Time: November 1st Part Time: Rolling Admission
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 12-course hours
  • Location: Combination of in-person and online learning
  • Program Cost:  $75,222 total program cost
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (215) 898-4271
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: admissions@nursing.upenn.edu

3. Rush University 

  • Admissions: September 6 for Spring Semester, January 4 for Fall Semester
  • Degree Awarded: DNP
  • Program Length: 62 term hours of post-baccalaureate or 56 term hours of post-master’s study
  • Location: Online
  • Program Cost:  $1,224 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (312) 942-7110
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: molly_spurlock@rush.edu

4. Vanderbilt University 

  • Admissions: October 15th 
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 41 credit hours and 700 clinical hours
  • Location: Online but students are required to visit campus 3 times in the fall and 2 times in the spring
  • Program Cost:  $$1,793 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (615) 322-3800
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: sandy.church@vanderbilt.edu

5. Ohio State University 

  • Admissions: October 15th 
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 54 credit hours
  • Location: Online but in-person clinical
  • Program Cost:  $973 per credit hour in-state / $2,447 per credit hour out-of-state tuition
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (614) 292-4041
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: nursing@osu.edu

6. University of California - San Francisco 

  • Admissions: April 1st
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 50 credit hours
  • Location: Online but in-person clinical
  • Program Cost:  $12,570 per year in-state / $24,815 per year out-of-state
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (415) 476-1435
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: nursingadmissionssupport@ucsf.edu or jana.kohler@ucsf.edu

7. Case Western University 

  • Admissions: March 15th
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 40 credit hours and 700 clinical hours
  • Location: Online but in-person clinical
  • Program Cost:  $2,197 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (216) 368-5981
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: admissionsfpb@case.edu

8. University of Chicago - Illinois 

  • Admissions: January 15th
  • Degree Awarded: DNP
  • Program Length: 82 credit hours 
  • Location: Online but in-person clinical
  • Program Cost:  $20,838 per year in-state per year / $33,076 per year out-of-state 
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (312) 996-7800
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: conapply@uic.edu

9. University of Virginia 

  • Admissions: April 1st for fall semester and December 1st for spring semester
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 46 credit hours and 600 credit hours
  • Location: Online but in-person clinical
  • Program Cost:  $18,520 per year in-state per year / $30,240 per year out-of-state 
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (434) 924-0066
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: ans6n@virginia.edu

10. University of Rochester 

  • Admissions: April 1st 
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 48 credit hours and 616 credit hours
  • Location: Online but in-person clinical
  • Program Cost:  $1,610 per credit 
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (585) 275-2375
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: son_admissions@urmc.rochester.edu

Show Me Nurse Practitioner Programs

About the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Career

The Neonatal NP career is extremely rewarding but can also be devastating especially when dealing with the life and death of very sick neonates and infants.  

In general, the setting in which NNPs work determines the tasks they perform. In the United States, there are four different levels of care for newborns. Most hospitals have three specific levels of care that group infants according to their needs, with only the most advanced hospitals having Level 4 NICUs.

  • Level One, Newborn Nursery care is for healthy, full-term infants. As such, the need for NNPs in level one care is limited.
  • Level Two, Intermediate Care Nursery is generally where premature and sick babies who are in need of constant attention are assigned.
  • Level Three, Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery is intended for the most seriously ill neonates with critical health issues who must be constantly monitored (usually referred to as the NICU).
  • Level Four, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit must meet all level III capabilities, plus have the ability to care for infants born earlier than 32 weeks gestation and weighing less than 1,500 grams, provide life support, perform advanced imaging including MRI and echocardiography, and provide a full range of respiratory support.

>> Related: How to Become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

How to Pick the Right Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program for You

Picking the right Neonatal NP program can be overwhelming especially with the increasing number of available programs throughout the country. Online programs have given access to top-tier programs to those that are unable to relocate. 

The most important determining factor when choosing a program is understanding if the state in which you reside allows students to enroll in distance education programs and therefore participate in clinical practicums within the state. 

It is important to check with your state board of nursing to see if your state allows this. Licensure requirements vary from state to state and by professional organization.  Any questions regarding state eligibility you can also contact the University’s Office of Enrollment and Student Affairs.

Other factors include: 

  • How will I pay for the degree? Loans? Scholarships? Tuition reimbursement?
  • Does your current job have an affiliation with a specific neonatal NP program?
  • Online versus in person?
  • Do you prefer obtaining your MSN or DNP?
  • Consider the program’s accreditation and graduate certification rate.
  • Consider the entry prerequisites for which you qualify.
  • Do you want a program that will find your clinical placements?
  • What is the job placement rate?
  • Is there program flexibility?

Show Me Nurse Practitioner Programs

About Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs

NNP Curriculum

NNP programs adhere to the Nurse Practitioner framework and core competencies (https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/nonpf.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/competencies/20170516_NPCoreCompsContentF.pdf) established by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing for Nurse Practitioners. Those nine competencies are:

  • Ethics
  • Health Delivery System
  • Independent Practice
  • Leadership
  • Policy
  • Practice Inquiry
  • Quality
  • Scientific Foundation
  • Technology and Information Literacy

Specific courses in a Neonatal NP program generally include: 

  • Advanced Pathophysiology
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Advanced Physical Assessment
  • Child with Special Healthcare Needs
  • Clinical Practicums
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Policy, Legal and Ethical Dimensions of Practice
  • High-Risk Neonate, Theory
  • Leadership and Critical Decision Making
  • Research Methods and Design

Requirements

Though every Neonatal Nurse Practitioner degree program is different, most have similar entry requirements:

  • Completion of undergraduate statistics with a grade of C or better
  • Current Neonatal Resuscitation Provider and Basic Life Support certificates
  • GRE if applicable
  • Minimum of two years of nursing experience in a Level III NICU within the last five years
  • Professional resume or curriculum vitae
  • Satisfactory completion of an accredited baccalaureate program with at least 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale
  • Submission of official transcripts from all postsecondary schools attended
  • Successful completion of a personal interview with the Nursing Admissions Committee
  • TOEFL test if applicable
  • Two or three professional references
  • Unencumbered, active RN license in state of practice (Some programs will require an RN license in the state of the program)
  • Written statement of professional goals for graduate study and nursing career

Tuition

Neonatal NP programs vary greatly in cost. Factors include school, location, online versus in person, and ultimate degree. The cost per credit hour can vary between $500 to $2,000 depending on the program. Doctoral-level programs tend to be more expensive than master's degree programs, in part because more credits are required overall. Tuition costs also include program fees, lab fees, course materials, and other associated expenses. 

Examples of credit cost include: 

  • Rush University - $1,224 / credit hour
  • Emory University - $1,963 / credit hour
  • Northeastern University - $1,560 / credit hour
  • Vanderbilt University - $1,793 / credit hour

Show Me Nurse Practitioner Programs

Accreditation

The two main accreditation bodies in the United States are as follows: 

  • The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) [https://www.acenursing.org/], formerly known as the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, is an organization designed to support nursing education and ensure it is done in a safe, reliable, and consistent matter. According to the website, the purpose of the ACEN is as follows:

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) [https://www.aacnnursing.org/CCNE] is considered the voice of academic nursing in America and contributes to the overall safety of the public’s health. This accreditation committee supports the continuous self-assessment of national programs to ensure quality education is delivered to all nursing students.  

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