Masters's and doctoral nurse practitioner degrees are available online. Although coursework may be offered fully online, in-person clinical practice or residency periods may be required. Students interested in online nurse practitioner programs must have an undergraduate degree and be registered nurses before applying. This can be accomplished by completing an undergraduate degree program in nursing or a bridge program. These bridge programs are designed to simultaneously fulfill the requirements of a bachelor's and a master's degree program in nursing. Most states require that after receiving a nursing degree, students must also earn a master's degree, post-master's certificate or doctoral degree in order to be officially recognized as a nurse practitioner.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
MSN, Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
Students who are already nurses and are seeking to expand their skills and options in the field are the primary audience for this type of MSN program. Students participate in a clinical practice which cannot be conducted online, but rather at a local clinic or other health care facility. Women's health nurse practitioner students can expect to complete courses in the following:
- Advanced reproductive dynamics
- Primary care of episodic illness for women
- Statistical analysis for advance nursing practice
- Advanced women's health
- Family and cultural statistics
- Differential diagnosis
- Research for advanced nursing practice
MSN, Nurse Practitioner
In this type of online nurse practitioner program, students will likely be expected to participate in a specified number of residency requirements on the school's campus, usually broken into three rounds - the first at the start of the program, another midway through the program and the last near the completion of the program. Students take courses in healthcare, nursing research and nursing theory. Specialties within this type of program can include the following:
- Pediatric nurse practitioner
- Adult nurse practitioner
- Gerontological nurse practitioner
Doctor of Nursing Practice
Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are apt to require either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or an MSN prior to admission. In addition, many programs also require students to have several years of professional experience. DNP specialty areas can include adult, family and pediatric practice nursing. Students are usually qualified to seek certification as a nurse practitioner after completion of the coursework in one of these specialty areas, which is usually about two to eight years, depending on whether students enter the program with a bachelor's or master's degree and whether they enter on a full-time or part-time basis.
Online Learning Requirements
Most, if not all, of the didactic part of nurse practitioner programs is taught via Internet technologies, and courses may require asynchronous and synchronous participation. Online courses are typically taught by the same faculty instructors as the on-campus programs. Students who complete online courses have unlimited access to the coursework via a Web-based learning system like Blackboard.
Students make use of audio and video lectures, as well as real-time chat sessions and e-mail with instructors and other students. Additionally, courses within some nurse practitioner programs might be offered via a hybrid system. This means that the majority of classes are delivered using distance learning technologies, with the remaining courses being held on a physical campus.
Registered nurses who are interested in becoming nurse practitioners may elect to complete an online program leading to a master's or doctoral degree. Coursework for these programs can be offered entirely online or may be a hybrid of online classes and traditional on-campus classes.