Top Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Programs

12 Min Read Published November 7, 2023
Top Neonatal Nurse Programs in 2024 | Nurse.org

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, curriculum, the top neonatal nurse practitioner programs, and salary opportunities for neonatal NPs

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

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

Fast Facts About Neonatal Nurse Practitioners

Salary
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 

Find Nursing Programs

Top 10 Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs 

Choosing a Neonatal NP program is a huge decision. Nurse.org has compiled a list of some of the best online and in-person Neonatal NP programs for 2024. This list considers numerous factors, including location, graduation rate, cost, credit hours, and more.

1. Duke University 

  • Admissions:
    • Fall priority deadline: December 1st
    • Spring priority deadline: May 1st
    • Applications received after priority deadlines are considered on a space-available basis
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 43 credit hours and 616 clinical hours
  • Location: Online with in-person clinical experience
  • Program Cost: $2,075 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 (fall and summer): November 1st
    • Part-time: Rolling Admission
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 12-course units
  • Location: In-person/online hybrid
  • Program Cost:  $6,586-$6,698 per course unit
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (215) 898-4271
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: admissions@nursing.upenn.edu

3. Rush University 

  • Admissions:
    • Spring: September 6
    • Fall: January 4
  • Degree Awarded: DNP
  • Program Length:
    • BSN-DNP: 62 term hours of post-baccalaureate or 56 hours post-master study
    • MSN-DNP: 62 term hours of post-baccalaureate or 30 hours post-master study
    • All students must complete the program within five years
  • Location: Online
  • Program Cost:  $1,286 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (312) 942-7117
  • NNP Program Admissions Contact Email Address: elizabeth_m_miranda@rush.edu

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

4. Vanderbilt University 

  • Admissions: October 15th  (post-deadline applicants reviewed on a rolling basis)
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 41 credit hours and 700 clinical hours
  • Location: Hybrid online - students visit campus 3 times in the fall and 2 times in the spring
  • Program Cost: $1,939 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (615)-322-1077
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: lauren.watt@vanderbilt.edu

5. Ohio State University 

  • Admissions:
    • Autumn 2024, Round 1: October 31st
    • Autumn 2024, Round 2: Spring 2024, Date TBD 
  • Degree Awarded: MSN, DNP, or Ph.D. (depending on the selected track)
  • Program Length: 53-78 credit hours (101 for non-nurse graduate entry track)
  • Location:
    • Traditional MSN, BSN to DNPOnline with in-person clinical hours
    • Graduate-entry MSN, BSN to Ph.D.: In-person
  • Program Cost:  In-state - $10,545.90 per semester; Non-resident: $10,745.90 per semester
  • Accreditation: 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: May 1st
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 2 years, 600 mentored practice hours
  • Location: Hybrid online with in-person clinical hours
  • Program Cost: In-state - $10,585 per semester; Non-resident - $14,667 per semester
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (415) 476-3388
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: nursingadmissionssupport@ucsf.edu or jana.kohler@ucsf.edu

7. Case Western University 

  • Admissions:
    • Fall and Summer: March 15th
    • Spring: October 1st
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 40 credit hours and 700 clinical hours
  • Location: Intensive and online
  • Program Cost:  $2,263 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: 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: Hybrid online with in-person clinical hours
  • Program Cost: In-state - $1,024  per credit hour; Non-resident - $1,512 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (312) 996-7800
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: conapply@uic.edu

9. University of Virginia 

  • Admissions: December 1st
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 2 years full-time with 49 credits and 616 clinical hours
  • Location: Hybrid online with in-person clinical hours
  • Program Cost:  In-state - $23,356 per year; Non-resident - $36,688 per year
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (434) 924-0066
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: ans6n@virginia.edu

10. University of Rochester 

  • Admissions:
    • Fall: April 15th
    • Spring: Sept 15th
  • Degree Awarded: MSN
  • Program Length: 54-58 credit hours and 976-1216 clinical hours
  • Location: Hybrid online with in-person clinical hours
  • Program Cost:  $1,740 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • College of Nursing - Contact Phone Number: (585) 275-2375
  • College of Nursing - Contact Email Address: son_admissions@urmc.rochester.edu

>> Show Me Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

About the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Career

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

In general, the setting where NNPs work determines their tasks. There are four different levels of care for newborns in the United States. 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 needing 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 called 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 nationwide. Online programs have given access to top-tier programs to those unable to relocate. 

NNP Program State Requirements

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

Post-Graduation Nurse Practitioner Licensure

Licensure requirements vary from state to state and by professional organization. It is essential to check with your state board of nursing to see if your state allows this. You can contact the university's enrollment or student affairs office for your questions regarding state eligibility. 

Tips For Choosing The Best NNP Programs

Questions you can ask yourself to help choose between NNP programs include: 

  • How will I pay for the degree? Loans? Scholarships? Tuition reimbursement?
  • Does my current job have an affiliation with a specific neonatal NP program?
  • Online versus in-person?
  • Do I prefer obtaining my MSN or DNP?
  • What is the program's accreditation?
  • What is the program's graduation rate?
  • What prerequisites do I need, and which do I already have?
  • Do I want a program that will find clinical placements?
  • What is the job placement rate?
  • Is there program flexibility?

Remember, the best neonatal nurse practitioner programs are the ones that suit your academic and professional needs.

>> Show Me Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

About Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs

NNP Curriculum

NNP programs adhere to the nurse practitioner framework and core competencies 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 neonatal nurse practitioner colleges have their own program requirements, there are a few standards that many adhere to, which include the following:

  • 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 a 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 the 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 significantly in cost. Even within the same neonatal nurse practitioner college, classmates may pay different tuition and associated fees. Factors that impact how much your neonatal nurse practitioner program costs include:

  • What school you attend
  • Whether you go online or in-person
  • Whether you attend full-time or part-time
  • What degree path you select

Credit costs for NNP programs can vary between $500 to $2,000, depending on the program. Doctoral-level programs are often more expensive than master's degree programs, partly because more credits are required overall. Tuition costs also include program fees, lab fees, course materials, and other associated expenses.

>> Show Me Online 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), 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) 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.  

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

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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