Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who have additional education and certification beyond that of a registered nurse (RN). They can write prescriptions and order tests based on an agreement with a supervising doctor. In Massachusetts, nurse practitioner programs are offered via master's degree, post-master's certificate and doctoral degree programs.
Specializations are available in adult gerontology care, women's health, mental health, pediatrics, family practice, and students may also be able to concentrate in acute care or primary care. Students complete clinical and practical experiences as well as didactic courses, some of which may be able to completed online. Nurse practitioner training options may be available to individuals with bachelor's degrees in other fields or nurses who do not possess a bachelor's degree.
Located outside Boston in Chestnut Hill, Boston College offers a Master of Science in Nursing or a past-master's certificate with multiple clinical specializations for nurse practitioners, including adult-gerontology, pediatric primary care, women's health, psychiatric mental health and family nurse practitioner. Each concentration has its own requirements, but common courses include ethics and issues in advanced nursing practice, research methods for evidence-based nursing practice, advanced health assessment and pharmacology/psychopharmacology. Students choose two nursing specialty practice courses and two specialty theory courses. Practice settings include mental health centers, college health clinics, homeless shelters, Brigham and Women's Hospital and many other community agencies in and around Boston.
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Registered nurses can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing or a post-master's certificate with a family nurse practitioner track online or at the Worcester and Manchester campuses of this college. The 42-credit hour M.S. program requires a master's thesis and 630 clock hours in clinical practical experience. Core coursework includes advanced health assessment across the lifespan, advanced practice nursing research, advanced pathophysiology and advanced pharmacology. Online students must attend three residencies.
Master's-educated registered nurses can enroll in a 28-credit hour online certificate of advanced graduate studies program with a family nurse practitioner track. Students take three courses in advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology and health assessment. The rest of the curriculum is a 630-hour supervised clinical practicum in family primary care and health assessment.
MGH Institute of Health Professions
This graduate school, founded by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, offers a Master of Science in Nursing program with a direct-entry option (for non-nurses) and an option for current RNs. Both options allow for specialization as a nurse practitioner in the following categories: family care, adult gerontology acute care, adult gerontology primary care, pediatrics, psychiatric/mental health, women's health and dual women's health/adult gerontology.
The direct-entry program can be completed in 6-8 semesters. In the first three semesters, direct-entry students take basic nursing courses, including nursing process and skills, advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, health care policy and politics, advanced assessment and diagnosis, and ethical issues in health care. Students then take courses in their specialty areas.
The post-RN program can be completed in five semesters and includes specialty-area nurse practitioner courses. Nurses without a bachelor's degree in nursing must take an additional three basic nursing courses. All students must complete a scholarly study project. The school also offers post-master's certificate and doctoral programs
Northeastern University in Boston offers a Master of Science in Nursing with multiple tracks that can lead to a career as a nurse practitioner. Those tracks include adult-gerontology acute care, pediatric acute care, adult-gerontology primary care, family primary care and pediatric primary care. Each track has its own requirements. Core courses include application of research in evidence-based practice and pharmacology for adults. Students also undergo 630 clock hours of supervised clinical learning. The university also offers certificates of advanced graduate studies in all of the above areas for master's-educated nurses. Master's completion programs are available in the primary care adult nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner tracks.
Weston's Regis College offers an accelerated nurse practitioner Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Nursing program that students can complete in three years. The first two years of the entry-level degree program include courses in clinical pharmacology along with clinical experience in maternal child health nursing, mental health nursing and acute care nursing. Students are qualified to sit for the NCLEX-RN after earning the bachelor's degree and 60 credits. After this, they take one more year of advanced practice coursework, choosing from courses in primary care for children, families, women of childbearing age or older adults. Students also take courses in management concepts and issues in advanced practice. The first two years of the program can be completed during daytime or evening hours; the third year can be completed either full or part time.
Salem State University
Salem State University in Salem offers a direct entry MSN program for those who have a bachelor's degree in an area other than nursing and would like to become advanced practice nurses. The program offers three tracks, one of which is an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner track. The 3-year program begins in May, and applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 to be considered.
The first part of the program, which is 15 months, consists of classwork and clinical experiences during the days, evenings and weekends. After completion of 52 nursing credits and all of the required prerequisites, which include anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, statistics, microbiology and chemistry, students earn the equivalent of a bachelor's degree in nursing and can sit for the NCLEX-RN. Students can complete the graduate coursework for nurse practitioners on a full- or part-time basis. Course topics for the program include public health and the health care system, biopsychosocial health care throughout the lifespan, pharmacology, health assessment and ethical reasoning. A 5-credit internship is required, as well as a series of practicums.
The School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Simmons College in Boston offers several pathways to becoming a family nurse practitioner. There are master's degree options for non-nurses with bachelor's degrees in other fields, diploma or associate degree-educated nurses, and bachelor's-educated nurses. The graduate sequence for RNs, whether they have an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing, is the same, with coursework in advanced pharmacology, clinical decision-making and primary care nursing. The direct entry program for non-nurses has a full nursing curriculum along with the graduate-level work; these students are also prepared for the NCLEX-RN after five semesters.
There is also a program for practicing nurse practitioners wishing to expand their skills and obtain a master's degree. Finally, a dual degree program with Harvard School of Public Health awards nurses an MSN along with a Master of Science in Society, Human Development and Health. This 80-credit hour program prepares individuals to become family nurse practitioners with an emphasis on developing community health programs and helping women and children at the public health level.
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
The Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in which students can choose a family nurse practitioner track. This is an online program that includes 46 credit hours of core courses in subject areas such as health care quality, research methods in nursing, informatics, epidemiology and biostatistics. Students also complete a capstone project and 6-credit practicum/immersion experience. Participants then take 38 more credits that include coursework, practicums and seminars. Those who enter with a master's degree must complete at least 36 credits, as opposed to bachelor's degree holders, who must earn 82-83. Master's degree students create an individual plan of study to complement their prior coursework.
University of Massachusetts - Boston
UMass in Boston offers an Adult/Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Post-Master's Certificate and a Family Nurse Practitioner Post-Master's Certificate, as well as an online program leading to a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Students take didactic and clinical coursework in their chosen specialties online and then participate in clinical experiences contracted through UMass in their home states.
Individuals certified as adult, family or pediatric nurse practitioners are eligible to enroll in a 12-credit hour option that includes 300 clock hours of clinical experience. Other nurse practitioner certifications are considered on an individual basis and may qualify individuals for the 12-credit option as well. Individuals without nurse practitioner certification in these areas take a 21-credit curriculum that includes 600 clock hours of clinical experience.
University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
The College of Nursing at UMass - Dartmouth in North Dartmouth offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program for those interested in becoming adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioners. This is a 63-credit hour program that includes classroom and laboratory work and over 1,000 hours of clinical experiences. Students also complete a scholarly project. The program is open to registered nurses with bachelor's degrees in nursing or in other fields. Nurses who already have a master's degree and certification as an advanced practice nurse can enroll in a 27-credit hour version of the DNP program. All applicants must have at least one year of experience in acute care nursing.
University of Massachusetts - Lowell
The Lowell campus of the University of Massachusetts offers a Master of Science in Nursing with three nurse practitioner concentrations: adult psychiatric/mental health nursing, family health nursing and adult/gerontological nursing. Each specialty has its own requirements; all students take courses in nursing foundations, human development and pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, diagnostic reasoning and research for evidence-based practice. Students also complete either a project or a master's thesis. Starting in the second semester, students take courses and begin clinical practicums in their chosen specialties.
The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing regulates the licensure of nurses in the state. Nurse practitioners must have completed an accredited RN program and a board-approved nurse practitioner program, and they must hold professional certification from a board-approved organization. The following Massachusetts colleges and universities offer degree and certificate programs specific to nurse practitioners. All of these schools have programs accredited by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, which would help qualify graduates to earn board certification.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Nurse Practitioner Degrees & Certificates Offered||Graduate Student Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)|
|Boston College||4-year, private not-for-profit; small city|| Master of Science in Nursing
|Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city|| Master of Science in Nursing,
Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Nursing
|MGH Institute of Health Professions||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city|| Master of Science in Nursing
Doctor of Nursing Practice
|Northeastern University||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city|| Master of Science in Nursing
Doctor of Nursing Practice
|Regis College||4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb|| Accelerated BSN/MSN
|Salem State University||4-year, public; large suburb||Master of Science in Nursing|| $8,188 in-state*,
|Simmons College||4-year, private not-for-profit; large city|| Master of Science in Nursing,
Dual MSN/MS in Society, Human Development and Health
Doctor of Nursing Practice
|$1,385 per credit hour + $114 per semester as Activity Fee**|
|University of Massachusetts - Amherst||4-year, public; fringe town||Doctor of Nursing Practice|| $15,782 in-state*,
|University of Massachusetts - Boston||4-year, public; large city|| Master of Science Nurse Practitioner
Post-Master's Nurse Practitioner Certificate
Doctor of Nursing Practice (online)
| $18,231 in-state*,
|University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth||4-year, public; midsize suburb||Doctor of Nursing Practice|| $16,337 in-state*,
|University of Massachusetts - Lowell||4-year, public; large suburb||Master of Science in Nursing|| $15,060 in-state*,
$26,840 out-of-state *
Source: *NCES College Navigator, **School Website