EDUCATION
January 30, 2023

Top Nurse Practitioner Programs 2023

Nurse Practitioners are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses who enjoy the respect of their peers, the admiration of their patients, and an extremely high level of job satisfaction. But in order to become one, you first need to choose a nurse practitioner program. 

If you are beginning to explore becoming a Nurse Practitioner, you likely have many questions about which programs will provide you with the best education and position you for the greatest level of success. That's why we've listed the top nurse practitioner programs for 2023.

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Top Nurse Practitioner Programs for 2023

School

Graduate Nursing Degrees Offered

Number of Full-Time Faculty

Number of Graduate Nursing Students

Tuition 

Johns Hopkins University

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

78

1,124

$1,790 per credit

Duke University

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

90

812

$1,910 per credit

Emory University

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

116

965

$1,963 per credit

University of Pennsylvania

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

99

664

$48,408

University of Washington

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

82

518

$17,817 per year (in-state) and $30,999 per year (out-of-state)

Columbia University

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

77

697

$89,862

Ohio State University

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

107

540

$973 per credit (in-state) and $2,447 per credit (out-of-state)

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

94

359

$1,383 per credit (in-state) and $2,831 per credit (out-of-state)

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

83

299

​​$20,409 per year (in-state) and $43,565 per year (out-of-state)

Vanderbilt University

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

138

940

$1,793 per credit

Case Western University

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

91

386

$2,263 per credit

University of California - San Francisco

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

98

488

$12,570 per year (in-state) and $24,815 per year (out-of-state)

University of Illinois - Chicago

Master’s, Ph.D., DNP

105

848

$20,838

*Source U.S. News and World Report

Top Nurse Practitioner Programs by Specialty

There are approximately 400 academic institutions in the United States that offer accredited Nurse Practitioner programs, and all of them provide the training and education needed to ensure you are ready and able to move forward as a Nurse Practitioner. 

If you are interested in pursuing your education at one of the NP programs that has distinguished itself in the most popular NP specialty areas, we have compiled a list of the top five programs for each, as judged by U.S. News and World Report.

Top Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Programs 

1. Vanderbilt University – Nashville, Tennessee

Tuition: $1,793  per credit

Vanderbilt University’s Adult-Gerontology Acute Care program is taught by doctorally-prepared faculty using traditional classroom settings as well as live streaming videos, online educational activities, simulated experiences and clinical training. The program offers specialization in cardiology, critical care, nephrology, pulmonology, endocrinology, trauma, rehabilitation and other areas. 

2. Duke University – Durham, North Carolina

Tuition: $1,910 per credit 

Duke University’s Adult-Gerontology Acute Care offers intensive courses, state-of-the-art simulation techniques and immersion in clinical rotations for patients across all acute care settings including urgent care and emergency departments, hospitalist, intensive care services and step-down units in academic, community or critical access environments. 

3. University of Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, PA

Tuition: $48,408  per year

The Adult-Gerontology Acute Care program at the University of Pennsylvania provides a 15-month full-time curriculum as well as a two-year and three-year plan of study for students who wish to attend the program on a part-time basis. The clinical courses include classroom case studies and clinical preceptorships that focus on physical assessment and pathophysiology, health maintenance, and the management of common acute and chronic health problems. 

4. Emory University- Atlanta, GA

Tuition: $1,963 per credit

Emory University’s Adult/Gerontology Acute Care program focuses on both the care of acutely ill and complex chronically ill patients and their families. Areas of specialty include critical care, trauma surgery, and hospital medicine. 

5. Yale University - New Haven. CT

Tuition: $47,114 per year (full-time) $30,650 per year (part-time)

Yale University’s Adult-Gerontology NP program is a collaboration with the Connecticut Older Adult Collaboration for Health (COACH) program, the framework of the 4 M’s; mentation (cognition and mood), medication (appropriate medication use), mobility (mobility inside and outside the home and fall prevention) and matters most (patient health care goals and preferences) is utilized to educate students in the creation and maintenance of age-friendly health systems.

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Top Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Tuition: $1,910  per credit 

The Duke University Adult-Gerontology NP program is an MSN program that provides opportunities for short-term courses or clinical work in international sites and options for choosing an area of specialization including cardiology, endocrinology, oncology, orthopedics and HIV. 

2. Vanderbilt University - Nashville, TN

Tuition: $1,793 per credit

Vanderbilt University works closely with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, one of the nation’s top academic medical centers for clinical placement throughout the program. Students benefit from low faculty-to-student ratios and personalized attention. 

3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Tuition: $1,383 per credit (in-state) and $2,831 per credit (out-of-state)

Students at the University of Michigan Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program have an opportunity to choose from a variety of program plan options to suit their needs, which includes online and on-campus learning environments. The program highly focuses on cutting-edge, community-based care.

4. Emory University- Atlanta, GA

Tuition: $1,963 per credit

Emory University’s Adult/Gerontology Primary Care program focuses on both the care of acutely ill and complex chronically ill patients and their families. Areas of specialty include critical care, trauma surgery, and hospital medicine. 

5. University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Tuition: $12,570 per year in-state, $24,815 per year out-of-state 

According to the university website, the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) specialty at UCSF promotes and sustains health in the community and workplace, with particular emphasis on culturally diverse and high-risk populations. Graduates from the program go on to practice in community and hospital-based primary care clinics, patient’s homes, skilled nursing facilities, and other long-term health care settings.

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Top Family Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Tuition: $1,910 per credit 

The Duke University FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner) program is offered both in-person and online. It prepares its graduates to serve as the primary health care provider for patients of all ages and across all primary care settings. Much of the program’s focus is on preparation for advanced clinical practice throughout patients’ lifespan and across the health continuum. Includes pediatric and perinatal care courses and the ability to do clinical work in international sites. 

2. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Tuition: $1,793 per credit 

Vanderbilt University’s Family Nurse Practitioner program teaches a family-oriented approach focused on health promotion and maintenance. While the program offers a traditional didactic approach, it is particularly well suited to those who are self-directed learners who can take in a significant amount of information in concentrated form.  

3. University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, California

Tuition: $12,570 per year in-state, $24,815 per year out-of-state 

The University of California -San Francisco’s Family Nurse Practitioner program is focused on preparing Nurse Practitioners to be leaders in clinical care, research and policy. It provides extensive hands-on experience working with a wide range of patient populations with complex healthcare needs, across the lifespan and in a variety of clinical settings. Post-Master’s certificates are available and require 5 quarters of coursework and an additional 560 hours of clinical practice. 

4. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Tuition: $19,409 per year in-state, $43,565 per year out-of-state 

The Family Nurse Practitioner program and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill prepare students as advanced practice nurses for community-oriented primary care. Some of the course topics include epidemiology, family and community systems, appropriate use of technology, cost-effectiveness, and holism and caring. Students may also choose to focus on vulnerable populations through focused clinical placements.

5. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

Tuition: $1,963  per credit 

Emory University’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program prepares graduates to meet the needs of individuals across their lifespans. The program has a strong focus on community-based primary care, offering multidisciplinary experiences in both the classroom and through clinical settings including rural and migrant populations. The program places students in more than 40 community-based sites and private practices to ensure a wide range of exposure and experience. 

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Top Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Programs 

1. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Tuition: $1,910  per credit 

The Duke University Pediatric NP program provides training through all areas of primary health care for children of all ages, including health maintenance and prevention, chronic and acute pediatric illnesses, behavior issues and patient/family education. Clinical practice provides one-on-one experience and is facilitated through work in school-based health clinics, hospital ambulatory settings, health departments and community pediatric practices. 

2. Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, Maryland

Tuition: $1,790 per credit

Become a DNP-prepared pediatric primary care nurse practitioner all while taking advantage of resources found only at Johns Hopkins. Students enhance their relationship with Johns Hopkins’ internationally acclaimed faculty who have broad experience in advanced clinical practice, leadership, and patient safety, and build up your network with the other emerging leaders among your cohort and alumni.

3. Rush University - Chicago, Illinois

Tuition: $1,066 per credit 

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PC PNP) program prepares students to function in a variety of primary care settings, taking care of children from infancy through young adulthood. The online program can be accomplished in two to four years on either a full-time or part-time basis. 

4.  University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Tuition: $26,264 per year (in-state, full-time) 

The Doctor of Nursing Practice Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Iowa provides students with a blended learning experience of academics and carefully selected clinical experiences to ensure the highest quality learning experience.  The university has a 100% certification exam pass rate as well as a 100% job placement rate for graduates. The length of the program is 3-4 years.

5. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Tuition: $1,793 per credit 

Vanderbilt University’s Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Primary Care program is taught by doctorally prepared faculty with diverse and real-world pediatric NP experience.  Vanderbilt offers a thorough and comprehensive curriculum combining traditional classroom settings, clinical training and simulation experience to teach pediatric care knowledge and critical thinking skills.   

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Top Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Programs

1. Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Tuition: 1,910  per credit 

The Duke University Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program provides the skills needed to deliver psychiatric mental health care to all ages, with an emphasis on underserved communities and rural settings. The program offers immersion in the clinical environment, including emergency departments, inpatient facilities and intensive care services, VA facilities and residential mental health care facilities. Graduates receive certification in telepsychiatry, and options for certification in veterans’ health. It also offers a Post-Graduate certificate program for those who are already nurse practitioners. 

2. Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Tuition: $1,793 per credit 

Vanderbilt University’s Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program was one of the first of its kind in the country. It includes education on treatment for individuals, families or groups with common, acute or chronic mental health programs, providing its graduates with the training to prescribe appropriate medications, psychotherapy, crisis intervention, case management and consultation in a variety of settings. The program offers low faculty-to-student ratios, mentoring and personalized attention. 

3. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Tuition: $19,409 per year in-state, $43,565 per year out-of-state 

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program prepares its graduates to provide for the psychiatric and mental health care needs of individuals, families groups and communities throughout the lifespan and in a broad range of practice and community settings.  The program emphasizes cultural sensitivity and the ability to understand and integrate mental and physical health problems. Students are encouraged to complete their clinical hours in their own communities. 

4. University of California, San Francisco, CA

Tuition: $12,570 per year (in-state) and $24,815 per year (out-of-state)

The University of California, San Francisco's Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program  is an MSN program. Students gain an opportunity to complete clinical placements across the Bay Area at several psychiatric hospital locations. Program coursework includes psychiatric assessment and symptom management, psychopharmacology, and various therapy modalities.

5. Yale University, Orange, CT

Tuition: $47,114 per year

The Psychiatric–Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program at Yale University prepares students for advanced practice in the provision of psychiatric–mental health services to individuals across the lifespan and their family members. This is a master’s degree program that takes two years of full-time study to complete.

How Do You Become Certified as a Nurse Practitioner?

After completing an accredited nurse practitioner program, you'll need to become certified in whatever NP specialty you have chosen. There are different certification organizations depending on what you're specializing in. They include:

  1. American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP)

  2. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)

  3. American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

  4. American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

  5. National Certification Corporation (NCC)

  6. Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB)

Each certification board will have different requirements, though all will require you to have completed an accredited nurse practitioner program and to pass a certification exam.

Can You Earn a Nurse Practitioner Degree Online? 

Remote learning has become increasingly popular, and online NP degrees at both the MSN level and the DNP level are offered through many of the country’s top Nurse Practitioner programs. 

This has allowed nurses to continue to work and support or care for themselves and their families while at the same time furthering their education and professional opportunities. 

How Much Do Nurse Practitioner Programs Cost? 

The costs of Nurse Practitioner programs vary depending on numerous variables, including whether you choose to attend an in-state public program or a private university, whether you will need to relocate to attend a full-time program where you will need room and board, and whether you are taking the program on a part-time, per-credit basis or a full-time tuition basis.  

The costs for MSN nursing programs can easily reach $60,000 to $100,000, with DNP programs costing almost twice that as a result of the additional coursework required. 

Fortunately, there are numerous opportunities for full-time students to take advantage of financial aid such as the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) program and nursing scholarships, and for those who are studying part-time or online while working to seek tuition reimbursement from their employers. 

NP Program Prerequisites & Requirements

When you're applying to nurse practitioner programs, prerequisites and requirements will vary depending on the school, but you can expect to generally need the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited college or university
  • An active RN license and work experience, including a specified number of clinical hours
  • A minimum undergraduate GPA (usually a 3.0 or higher)
  • Letters of recommendation (academic and professional)
  • Application essay
  • Current resume or CV
  • GRE scores

Applicants will also need to have taken specific prerequisites, which may include:

  • General Chemistry
  • Human Anatomy and physiology (with labs)
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

Nurse Practitioner Program FAQs

  • Which nurse practitioner is most in demand? 

    • Many NP specialties are in demand, but primary care NPs may be especially needed in the next few years.
  • Which NP program is best? 

    • Duke University has one of the highest-ranked NP programs in the country. 
  • What is the easiest nurse practitioner program? 

    • Many schools offer hybrid NP programs, so coursework can be completed online. 
  • Where is the highest need for nurse practitioners? 

    • Florida, Texas, New York, California, and Ohio are all projected to have a high need for NPs in the next decade, with new jobs being added and current doctors due to retire.
  • Is the NP market oversaturated? 

    • The NP market is not oversaturated. It is a job that has grown rapidly in popularity, but there is still a high need for NPs. 
  • Is a PA higher than a nurse practitioner? 

    • A PA is not “higher” than an NP. Both PAs and NPs are mid-level practitioners. In fact, NPs can practice independently in more states than PAs can. 

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