Registered nurses (RNs) with bachelor's degrees who want to become nurse practitioners (NPs) can apply to a nurse practitioner-focused Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, which can take 2-4 years to complete. RNs who already have a master's degree can earn a post-master's certificate in an NP specialty. Nurse practitioner specializations are available in neonatal, pediatric, adult and gerontological, family and mental health, and sub-specializations may be offered in acute care, primary care, orthopedics, oncology or cardiology. In addition to core courses, some of which may be able to be completed online, programs often integrate practical clinical experiences. Program applicants may need to pass a background check and may need to have a couple years of work experience to be considered.
Durham-based Duke University offers a Master of Science in Nursing program with multiple nurse practitioner concentrations. They include family, pediatric (acute care or primary care), adult-gerontology (acute care, primary care, primary care-cardiology or primary care-oncology), women's health, and neonatal. Students in the family, pediatric, and adult-gerontology (acute care or primary care), concentrations can further pursue an orthopedic nurse practitioner specialty program that trains them to work with patients of all ages who have musculoskeletal issues; this concentration also is available to non-degree-seeking students, who can earn a certificate of completion. All of these programs can be pursued full-time or part-time, and some core courses are available online.
East Carolina University
Greenville's East Carolina University (ECU) offers online MSN programs, with nurse practitioner concentrations in adult/gerontology, family, and neonatal. The adult/gerontology nurse practitioner concentration, with a minimum course load of 46 semester hours and 616 hours in supervised clinical practice, takes 2-3 years to complete. Courses focus on primary care, acute or chronic illnesses, and family health care.
The family nurse practitioner curriculum includes care of infants, children, adolescents, and adults. This program takes 2-4 years to complete and requires 50 semester hours and 748 hours of clinical practice. Concentrating on newborns and children, the neonatal nurse practitioner program takes four full-time semesters to complete. Neonatal NP is also available as a post-master's certificate program. ECU helps distance-learning students arrange clinical practice internships as close as possible to their homes.
Boiling Springs' Gardner-Webb University offers a Master of Science in Nursing. The three-year program includes 630 hours in practicum experiences in caring for children and adult patients. Students learn to conduct nursing research and health assessments and complete a 150-clock-hour residency project. As part of the residency project, students are expected to write a paper about a nursing-related issue. To gain admission to the program, students must have two years of work experience and a bachelor's degree in nursing and have undergone a criminal background check.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
At its Chapel Hill campus, the University of North Carolina offers a Master of Science in Nursing program that includes NP concentrations in adult-gerontology, family, pediatric, and psychiatric-mental health. The university also offers Post-Master's Cetificate in Psychiatric-mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
The MSN curriculum includes common courses in interpreting research reports and health care policy. Students also complete a master's thesis. The adult-gerontology program with a focus in oncology requires a course in oncology concepts and an oncology-focused practicum. The family nurse practitioner focus requires a capstone practicum.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Students at this university in Charlotte can choose from concentrations in adult/gerontology acute care or family nurse practitioner in the MSN program. The two-year adult/gerontology acute care program includes attendance in summer sessions and requires completion of a minimum 600 clinical practicum hours. Courses in health assessment, health policy and planning, advanced care of acutely ill patients, and advanced care and health promotion make up part of the required 47 credit hours in courses.
The Family Nurse Practitioner Across the Lifespan program also includes attendance in summer sessions and features courses such as pharmacotherapuetics, family theory, and primary care for children and adults. An internship is offered in the final summer session. Individuals who already have a Master of Science in Nursing can complete a 21-credit-hour post-master's certificate program in this concentration. This program requires 600 clock hours of supervised clinical experience.
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Students attending the Wilmington campus of the University of North Carolina can earn a Family Nurse Practitioner Post-master's Certificate or a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in the same area of study. Students pursuing the degree program can study full-time or part-time. The full-time program can be completed in two and a half years, while the part-time program takes three and a half years. Both require a course that looks at families living in rural areas. Other courses focus on care for patients of all ages, and the programs include required clinical components caring for children and adults. A master's project or thesis is also required.
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee-based Western Carolina University offers a Master of Science in Nursing with a family nurse practitioner concentration, as well as a Family Nurse Practitioner Post-master's Certificate. The MSN program requires students to choose a thesis option or complete extra coursework. In required courses, students learn about pharmacology, caring for children and youth, and issues for individuals in rural areas. Many of the theoretical courses have required clinical components. The post-master's certificate program requires completion of 38 semester hours.
Winston-Salem State University
Aspiring nurse practitioners in Winston-Salem can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing program with a family nurse practitioner concentration that offers full-time or part-time study. The two options take two and three years, respectively, to complete. Both require 672 clock hours of clinical practice. Students take courses in primary care for women, older adults, and families. Students must complete a scholarly project and a residency practicum.
The North Carolina Board of Nursing oversees registration of nurse practitioners. The board requires that nurse practitioners submit an application to practice with the support of a supervising physician who holds a valid license. Below, read overviews of the eight programs in the state offering nurse practitioner programs and take a look at the chart that compares the schools and programs.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Nurse Practitioner Programs Offered||Graduate Tuition & Fees (2019-2020)|
|Duke University||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city||MSN with multiple NP concentrations||$11,028/semester*|
|East Carolina University||4-year, public; small city|| MSN with NP concentrations in adult/gerontology, family, and neonatal,
Post-master's Certificate in Neonatal NP
| $3,768/semester, in-state
|Gardner-Webb University||4-year, private not-for-profit; distant town||Mater of Science in Nursing||$495/credit hour*|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||4-year, public; small city|| MSN with multiple NP concentrations,
Post-master's Certificate in Physchiatric-mental Health Nurse Practitioner
| $12,606/year, in-state
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||4-year, public; large city||MSN with NP concentrations in adult/gerontology care or family across the lifespan|| $4,410/semester, in-state
|University of North Carolina at Wilmington||4-year, public; midsize city|| MSN with a concentration in family NP,
Post-master's Certificate in Family NP
| $7,138/year, in-state
|Western Carolina University||4-year, public; fringe rural|| MSN with a concentration in family NP,
Post-master's Certificate in Family NP
| $5,020/semester, in-state
|Winston-Salem State University||4-year, public; midsize city||MSN with a concentration in family NP|| $5,231/year, in-state
Source: *Schools' websites.