Nurse practitioner programs cover a variety of different educational programs and graduate degrees. Practicing nurses interested in advancing their education, preparing themselves to become a nurse practitioner or changing their specialization within the profession might think about enrolling in a NP program. There are hundreds of available programs and different types of nursing degrees, each with their own focus and purpose. In this blog, we’ll explore what nurse practitioner programs are, how to become a NP and how to get into your ideal program!

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List of Nurse Practitioner Programs in the US List of Nurse Practitioner Programs in Canada What are Nurse Practitioner Programs? How to Become a Nurse Practitioner How to Get into Nurse Practitioner Programs FAQs

List of Nurse Practitioner Programs in the US

There are over 400 accredited nurse practitioner programs in the US, covering both Master’s of Nursing programs and more specialized nurse practitioner programs. Below we’ve included a list of the top nurse practitioner programs available in the US, located at some of the best nursing schools.

List of Nurse Practitioner Programs in Canada

French Language Nurse Practitioner Programs in Canada

What are Nurse Practitioner Programs?

Nurse practitioner programs can cover many different types of programs, from graduate nursing degrees to certificate programs practicing nurses can take to specialize in a certain area of nursing medicine. A nurse practitioner program is an advanced education program to prepare nurses for advanced clinical or administrative roles.

Nurse practitioner programs, essentially, are educational programs that prepare students to become nurse practitioners or specialize as nurse practitioners. The most common program is a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN), which is a graduate degree many states require nurses to have before they can get certified and licensed as a nurse practitioner (NP). Another common degree for NPs is the Master’s of Nursing (MN).

NPs can also enroll in doctorate degree programs, including a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or PhD in Nursing.

MSN vs. MN vs. DNP

Master’s of Science in Nursing degrees are just one type of graduate degree you can enroll in. They usually prepare students for administrative and leadership positions in nursing and healthcare. An MSN may also have unique curriculum “tracks” or offer electives in nursing specialties so you can customize your degree according to your career goals.

A Master’s of Nursing is typically more clinically focused and may have a specific focus on a nursing specialization, such as:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AG-ACNP)
  • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP)
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Cardiac Nurse Practitioner
  • Emergency Nurse Practitioner (ENP)
  • Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PCNP)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP)
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
  • Nurse midwife
  • Oncology Nurse Practitioner
  • Orthopaedic Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP-AC)
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

DNP or PhD programs in nursing are research-focused graduate degrees, and NPs with this type of degree often enter nursing research positions or become nurse educators.

Any of these degree types are suitable if you’re planning to become an NP. An MSN, MN or DNP are degree programs denoting your level of education and the type of education you’ve received in nursing, while NP is the qualification and level of licensure within nursing.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

Enrolling in a nurse practitioner program enables you to become an NP, but there are a few steps you’ll need to complete before achieving this goal.

Here’s a quick overview of how to become a nurse practitioner:

Applicants who have a bachelor’s degree that is not in nursing but still want to complete an MSN or MN degree and become an NP have the option at some programs of enrolling in a direct-entry or accelerated program. This can cut down on the length of time it takes you to become an NP and complete your studies.

Admission Requirements for Nurse Practitioner Programs

Want to know how to get into nursing school? You’ll first need to meet the nursing school requirements. Admission requirements for nurse practitioner programs are a little higher, considering these are graduate-level programs or special educational certificate programs.

Here are the common requirements for NP programs:

Note that while there are some NP programs that don’t require you to have a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN), it is a requirement for some MSN and MN programs. For applicants who do not have an undergraduate degree in nursing, there ARE options for you to earn your master’s degree in nursing and become an NP. There are many program tracks that are “direct-entry MSN” or accelerated nursing programs, allowing you to bridge the gap between your undergraduate education and your goal of becoming an NP.

How to Get into Nurse Practitioner Programs

Nursing school acceptance rates in the US and nursing school acceptance rates in Canada are extremely competitive, especially for higher-level degree programs like nurse practitioner programs. To get accepted, especially to top programs, you really need to stand out in your nursing school application.

Here are a few of our tips for how to get into nurse practitioner programs!

1. Demonstrate a passion for nursing

To get into any nursing program, you’ll need to show you have a strong passion for nursing and a clear motivation for why you want to be a nurse. Nurse practitioner programs want to know why you are going back to school to advance yourself in nursing or choosing a specialty. If you plan on entering a subspecialty, there are also nurse residency programs and nurse fellowship programs for NPs.

Many programs ask you to complete supplemental nursing school essays as part of your application, including the “case that defined you as a nurse” essay. Admissions committees are very interested in what your experience as a nurse has been like so far, what you’ve learned and what has motivated you to pursue further studies. In all of your application materials, highlight your passion for nursing or a particular nursing specialty.

Your essays, interview and extracurriculars for nursing especially will help to personalize your application and help it stand out from the crowd.

2. Meet and exceed requirements

For competitive nursing schools, it’s not enough to just meet all the admission requirements. You want to exceed them wherever possible. By this, we mean not just showing you have an above-average GPA or GRE score or a including extras in your application such as a nursing school cover letter.

You want to go above and beyond by demonstrating you have the qualities and skills of an ideal nursing professional. You can highlight this in your application, but also in your interview when the admissions committee can meet you face-to-face. For instance, critical thinking nursing interview questions and nursing school behavioral interview questions are an opportunity for you to expand on your nursing experiences and that you have the skills a program is looking for.

3. Show an interest in the program

There are many nursing programs out there, but they do want to know that you’ve chosen them for a good reason, and not just because they are the highest-ranked program or a convenient choice for you. One way to show that you’ve chosen a program because it’s the right fit for you is to include a nursing school letter of intent in your application. Some programs may directly ask you “why this nursing school?” in your interview or supplemental essay prompts.

Research potential nursing schools thoroughly and keep note of what attracts you to a program, how a program’s curriculum or clinical opportunities will help you achieve your goals as an NP. Admissions committees want to know why you chose to apply!


1. What are nurse practitioner programs?

Nurse practitioner programs can cover a few different types of graduate degree programs and specialized programs. For instance, a Master’s of Science in Nursing or Master’s of Nursing are both graduate degrees in nursing that prepare you to become a nurse practitioner or help NPs to advance their careers and education. However the two master’s programs may have different curriculums and open different career tracks for you. There are also graduate NP programs that are more specialized and prepare you for a career as an NP in a certain nursing specialty or area.

2. How do you become a nurse practitioner?

To become a nurse practitioner, you need to complete four essential steps. First, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in nursing, specifically. Next, you’ll need to become a licensed RN by taking and passing the NCLEX-RN certifying exam. To complete your path to NP, you’ll need to complete a graduate degree in nursing and become licensed as an NP by taking and completing the National Nurse Practitioner Certification Board Exam. 

3. How long are nurse practitioner programs?

Nurse practitioner programs are usually 2 years long, when taken full-time. It may take up to 3 years on a part-time schedule, so how long nursing school is can depend on a few different factors. If you’ve enrolled in a doctorate degree in nursing, your studies can take 4-5 years to complete.

4. What are the requirements for NP programs?

To get into most nurse practitioner programs, the admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a minimum undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, a complete application and a nursing school interview.

5. What degree does a NP have?

Nurse Practitioners hold at least a master’s degree in nursing, although some nurse practitioners may decide to enroll in a doctorate degree in nursing. 

6. How much are NPs paid?

The average nurse practitioner is paid around $120,000 per year, although the salary for NPs can range depending on the state you’re practicing in, your specialization and what your job position is.

7. What can NPs do?

Nurse practitioners provide advanced clinical care to patients in primary and acute care and various specialties. NPs are allowed to assess and examine patients, prescribe medications, order and interpret diagnostic tests and manage patient treatment plans.

8. What is the shortest time to become a nurse practitioner?

To become a nurse practitioner, you’ll need at least 6 years of education, including both your bachelor’s degree and your master’s degree. There are ways to complete your studies faster, for instance by enrolling in an accelerated nursing program.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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