Choose the Best Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Program 2021

Having a newborn child in need of medical attention—whether mild or severe—is a difficult situation for families to endure. Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) are one of the friendly faces delivering care to these infants, from emergency rooms to outpatient developmental clinics to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). If you’re interested in this career path, your next step may involve figuring out what degree program will help to prepare you for it.

On this page, we’ll take a look at some accredited online neonatal nurse practitioner programs offered at universities across the country, what you may expect once you’re enrolled in a program, and options for funding your education should you need it. We’ll also explore what comes next—earning potential, job outlook, and more. 

Accredited Online Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) Programs

UniversityLocationLengthEnrollment Options
Duke UniversityDurham, NC24 months Full-Time
East Carolina UniversityGreenville, SC12-36 monthsFull-Time, Part-Time
Northeastern UniversityBoston, MA12-24 monthsFull-Time, Part-Time
Ohio State UniversityColumbus, OH24-36 monthsFull-Time, Part-Time
Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, VA24-36 months Full-Time, Part-Time
Thomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphia, PA24-60 monthsFull-Time, Part-Time
University of Alabama at BirminghamBirmingham, AL24 monthsFull-Time
University of ConnecticutHartford, CT24-36 months Full-Time, Part-Time
University of Missouri – Kansas CityKansas City, MO24-30 monthsFull-Time, Part-Time
University of South AlabamaMobile, AL24-60 monthsFull-Time Part-Time
University of Texas Medical Branch at GalvestonGalveston, TX 30 months Part-Time

Duke University

Durham, NC

Program Description: Learn from some of the best. Duke’s expert faculty are active in clinical practice and research but still make time to teach the next generation of neonatal nurse practitioners. The University’s MSN and post-grad certification programs offer students flexible, distance-based curricula and the opportunity to benefit from Duke’s expansive library of medical resources.
Program Name: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner MSN Program
Enrollment Options: Full-Time
Coursework Credits: 43 Credits, 616 clinical hours
Length of Program: 24 Months
Admission Requirements

  • 2 years of full-time RN experience in a level-three NICU
  • BSN from an accredited institution 
  • GPA of 3.0 
  • Enrollment Prerequisite Classes
  • 3 References
  • Transcript

Learn more about Duke University’s MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.

East Carolina University

Greenville, SC

Program Description: East Carolina University wants to train students to become NNPs that “meet the needs of high-risk infants and their families in tertiary care centers.”  Their online NNP concentration is designed to deliver students the tools they need to work in an advanced nursing position within the neonatal field. A flexible, online learning environment also allows students to complete course requirements at their own pace. 
Program Name: MSN – Neonatal Nurse Practitioner concentration, Post-Master’s Certificate
Enrollment Options: Full-Time, Part-Time 
Coursework Credits: 42 Credits
Length of Program: 30-42 Months
Admission Requirements:

  • Licensed RN
  • BSN from an accredited institution 
  • GPA of 2.7 
  • GRE or MAT 
  • 3 Professional References
  • A course in statistics with a “C” or higher

Learn more about East Carolina University’s Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.

Northeastern University

Boston, MA

Program Description: This 100% online program gives students the experience and diagnostic knowledge to save lives on the job. The MSN and Certificate of Advanced Study (CAGS) programs are designed to enhance the skills of students in order to pass the neonatal nurse practitioner certification exam offered by the National Certification Corporation (NCC). Learn advanced pathophysiology, early assessment techniques, pharmacology, and more. 
Program Name: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program, Certificate of Advanced Study (CAGS
Enrollment Options: Full-Time, Part-Time 
Coursework Credits: 41 Credits
Length of Program: 12-24 Months 
Admission Requirements:

  • Licensed RN (no restrictions)
  • BSN from an accredited institution 
  • GRE and GMAT 
  • 3 reference letters
  • Personal interviews

Learn more about Northeastern University’s MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.

Ohio State University

Columbus, OH

Program Description: OSU’s neonatal program pairs flexibility and affordability with advanced learning. The university’s world-class faculty and evidence-based research practices provide online students with the resources they need to succeed on an advanced nursing path—even from afar. Distance-learning students are even eligible for in-state tuition, regardless of geographic location. 
Program Name: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Track: Traditional Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Graduate Entry, Post-Master’s Study Option, BSN to DNP, and BSN to PhD
Enrollment Options: Full-Time, Part-Time 
Coursework Credits: 41 Credits
Length of Program: 24-30 Months 
Admission Requirements (MSN Program):

  • BSN from an accredited institution 
  • RN licensure
  • 3.0 GPA
  • 3 reference letters 
  • Online Interview

Learn more about Ohio State’s MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.

Old Dominion University

Norfolk, VA

Program Description: The NNP program at Old Dominion University prepares students to provide pre-term and full-term care to neonates up to two years of age. With hands-on clinical and community-based learning opportunities, students enrolled in the MSN program will graduate with skillset the need to practice neonatal care in a level II, III, or IV NICU. 
Program Name: MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program
Enrollment Options: Full-Time, Part-Time 
Coursework Credits: 52 Credits
Length of Program: 24-30 Months 
Admission Requirements:

  • BSN from an accredited institution 
  • 3.0 GPA
  • GRE and GMAT (unless GPA is above 3.5) 
  • 3 reference letters 
  • Goal Statement 

Learn more about Old Dominion’s MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.

Thomas Jefferson University

Philadelphia, PA

Program Description: Graduates of the university’s NNP program may be prepared to deliver advanced care to critically or chronically ill infants. The program consists of 12 courses, eight of which are taught completely online and four that may require some face-to-face coursework. There are also accelerated program options for students who wish to take more than two classes per semester.
Program Name: MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program
Enrollment Options: Full-Time, Part-Time 
Coursework Credits: 36 Credits, 672 Clinical Hours (self-scheduled plans available) 
Length of Program: 24-48 Months 
Admission Requirements:

  • 1 year as a licensed RN in a level III NICU 
  • BSN from an accredited university 
  • GPA of 3.0
  • 3 reference letters 
  • Transcript 

Learn more about Thomas Jefferson University’s MSN  Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program. 

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, AL

Program Description: The University of Alabama’s only neonatal nurse practitioner specialty provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to diagnose and manage health problems in infants, newborns, and children under two years old. The program also focuses on providing extended care to neonates who are acutely ill or have chronic health problems.
Program Name: MSN Nurse Practitioner Pathway – Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
Enrollment Options: Full-Time
Coursework Credits: 45 Credits
Length of Program: 30-42 Months
Admission Requirements:

  • BSN from an accredited institution 
  • GPA of 3.0
  • GRE Score
  • References
  • Transcript

Learn more about the MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program at UAB.

University of Connecticut

Hartford, CT

Program Description: UConn’s advanced neonatal nurse practitioner program is available for neonatal nurses who wish to quickly move forward in their career. Courses are delivered fully online with just three required on-site visits. The curriculum is set and taught by a UConn nursing faculty that includes some of the most advanced professionals in the field of neonatal care. 
Program Name: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Master’s Program
Enrollment Options: Full-Time
Coursework Credits: 45 Credits
Length of Program: 24-48 Months
Admission Requirements:

  • 2 years of full-time RN experience in a level-three NICU
  • BSN from an accredited institution 
  • GPA of 3.0 (or 3.5 in your final undergraduate year)
  • References
  • Transcript

Learn more about UConn’s MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.

University of Missouri – Kansas City

Kansas City, MO

Program Description: Missouri’s online NNP program focuses on the health management of the neonate but also affords students a wide base of knowledge in advanced nursing theory, research, cultural diversity, health policy, ethics, and leadership. Graduates of the program are also qualified to take the NCC’s Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Board Exam. 
Program Name: MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program, Post-Graduate Certification
Enrollment Options: Full-Time, Part-Time 
Coursework Credits: 45 Credits
Length of Program: 24-30 Months (flexible schedules)
Admission Requirements:

  • 2 years of full-time licensed clinical practice (level III NICU) 
  • BSN from an accredited institution 
  • GPA of 3.2 
  • Graduate-level statistics course (“B” or better) 
  • Personal interviews

Learn more about the University of Missouri’s MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.

University of South Alabama

Mobile, AL

Program Description: The master’s and doctoral NNP programs at the University of South Alabama are offered exclusively online but require a three-to-four-day in-person orientation during the fall semester of the first practicum course. Graduates will be prepared to synthesize and apply key concepts from the advanced knowledge, theories, and clinical research achieved through the program’s coursework. RN to MSN, BSN to MSN, and post-graduate certificates are offered. 
Program Name: MSN and DNP Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Programs
Enrollment Options: Full-Time, Part-Time 
Coursework Credits: 52 Credits
Length of Program: 24-30 Months 
Admission Requirements (MSN Program):

  • 2 years as a licensed RN in a level III NICU (prior to specialty clinical component)
  • GRE and GMAT (unless GPA is above 3.5) 
  • 3 reference letters 
  • Goal Statement 
  • Transcript from an accredited undergraduate institution

Learn more about the University of South Alabama’s Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Galveston, TX

Program Description: UTMB’s NNP program offers students state-of-the-art laboratory simulations, world-class faculty, online flexibility, and clinical practice to prepare students for real-world application of the curriculum. Graduates average a 90% pass rate on the NCC’s national certification exam. 
Program Name: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program
Enrollment Options: Part-Time 
Coursework Credits: 46
Length of Program: ~30 Months 
Admission Requirements:

  • Active RN licensure 
  • BSN from an accredited university 
  • GPA of 3.0
  • 1 reference letters 
  • Transcript 

Learn more about UTMB’s MSN Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.

Related Programs

At the master’s level, there are a number of nursing programs with concentrations in the field of neonatal care. But before you decide whether or not you’d like to enroll in an online neonatal nurse practitioner program, it’s important to consider the array of specializations within the nursing field. Exploring your options can help you to determine which online MSN program is right for you. You may find that you’ll benefit from completing an online nurse practitioner program as opposed to another type of program—it all depends on your specific career goals. Here is a list of a few related graduate programs that you may be interested in:

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) Programs: As a women’s health nurse practitioner, you may provide gynecological assistance, low or high-risk pregnancy management, family planning, or STD prevention, screening, and treatment to women under your care. And WHNP programs may prepare you to do just that.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM): Certified nurse midwives are experts in the area of reproductive health and—more specifically—childbirth. CNM programs allow students to gain knowledge and skills that prepare them to attend births, conduct annual examinations, prescribe medication, and provide counseling to mothers.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP): FNP is one common career path for nurse practitioners. FNPs care for patients of all ages, working with families and individuals to implement health-management plans and provide preventative care. Explore online FNP programs.  

Sponsored Online Nursing Programs

Sponsored

Earn a Master of Science in Nursing online from Simmons University.

  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Preparation to pursue certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Part-time, full-time, and extended plans of study

Earn an MS in Nursing online from Georgetown University.

  • Earn your MS in Nursing in as few as 23 months
  • Choose from one of four APRN specialty areas: AG-ACNP, FNP, NM/WHNP, or WHNP
  • Gain hands-on clinical experience in evidence-based practice

Earn an M.S. in Nursing online at the Wegmans School of Nursing

  • The Wegmans School of Nursing is ranked among the top 100 nursing schools nationally, and is No. 6 in New York state1
  • Part-time and accelerated tracks available
  • Four program options: PCFNP, PMHNP, AGACNP, AGPCNP

Earn your MSN online from USC’s Top-Ranked School of Social Work.

  • Prepares RNs to pursue board certification as family nurse practitioners
  • Earn a CCNE-accredited MSN in as few as 21 months
  • Choose from part-time and full-time study options

1 U.S. News & World Report, 2022 Best Nursing Schools: Master’s. Ranked in 2021.

Sponsored

Choosing an Online School for Your NNP Program

What do you want to get out of your degree? Where do you want to practice after you graduate? When it comes to deciding which programs you should apply to, there are plenty of factors to consider before you arrive at a thoughtful conclusion. We explore a few of the variables below.

Your Goals 

Think about what kind of clinical work you want to do when you graduate. Certain programs may better prepare you for your preferred work environment or fit better with your schedule. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Dual-degree programs: Dual degree programs allow you to work toward two degrees at the same time. A student who opts to follow this path may receive two master’s degrees in two different disciplines, such as nursing and business. 
  • Synchronous programs: Synchronous online learning attempts to mirror the structure of in-person education. Your online courses may be taught in real time by a professor who sets the class schedule—the same as if you were on campus. 
  • Asynchronous programs: Asynchronous online learning generally gives you the freedom to build your own schedule. Pre-packaged coursework and lesson plans are available for you to access and complete on your own time.

Speaking to current or past students and faculty to see if their experiences are congruent with your goals is another useful strategy for finding the best program for you.

Program Accreditation 

Program accreditation isn’t just a formality—it may be a requirement in your state to pursue licensure. In fact, you may not be able to apply for licensing if your coursework wasn’t completed at an accredited institution. Even if a given position or certification doesn’t demand accredited coursework, accreditation may help to give you an edge over competing applicants. Double check to make sure your program is accredited from a third-party organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

Admission Requirements

In addition to application and tuition costs, admission requirements may be a deciding factor for certain prospective students. Requirements may include RN licensing, prior clinical experience, GRE and GMAT scores, and a minimum GPA, but it’s important to keep in mind that the complete list will vary by program and school. Once you narrow down your top schools, make sure you meet all of the requirements before applying.

Curriculum 

Are there specific courses or class schedules that you are looking for? If you plan to continue working part-time, you may want to make sure your chosen online NNP program fits your lifestyle. If you have your eyes set on a specific postgraduate career or research path, see if the curriculum touches upon your interests. Courses in an online NNP program might include: 

  • Early assessment and evaluation: This course teaches students to assess and identify high-risk neonates and evaluate treatment options before birth.
  • Neonatal Pathology:  In this course, students learn how to identify and treat common life-threatening illnesses encountered by neonates.
  • Technology and Management: This course introduces students to the advanced nursing management and technology needed by critically ill neonates and their families.
  • Pharmacology: Students who take this course develop medical pharmacology knowledge specific to neonatal nurses.

Clinical Hours Experience

Many advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) programs, including a few of the online neonatal nurse practitioner programs listed above, require students to put in a minimum of 500 hours of clinical work. These hours allow students to gain real-world experience and put their knowledge to the test. 

Additionally, many programs request students have one or two years of clinical experience under their belt in either a level II, III, or IV NICU before being offered admission. Before applying, check with your state’s nursing board or the school’s admissions office to make sure you meet your program’s clinical requirements. 

State Authorization

Where do you plan on practicing once you graduate? Where do you plan on completing your program’s clinical requirements? If your online NNP program requires same-state clinical work, geographical concerns may come into play. Additionally, you’ll need licensing for the specific state within which you plan to practice—requirements are unique to each state’s higher education and nursing governance boards. As you explore program options, make sure you research state-specific information. 

Potential Salary and Jobs

As of 2019, the median salary for nurse practitioners was $109,820, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Specific salary adjustments are contingent upon the state and the clinical environment you decide to practice in. For instance, according to 2019 BLS data for nurse practitioners, nurse practitioners in New York earned a mean annual wage of $122,550, while those in Tennessee earned a mean annual wage of $96,510. Here are a few common settings that NNPs may practice in—each of which may affect salary: 

  • Offices of Physicians
  • Hospitals (state, local, and private)
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Educational services (state, local, and private) 
  • Offices of other health practitioners

Certifications and Licenses 

While the path to becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner may be different from nurse to nurse, you will have to pursue state licensure as a nurse practitioner. There is one certification for NNPs offered by the National Certification Corporation (NCC) – Neonatal Nurse Practitioner – Board Certified. While there are other nursing certifications you may choose to pursue, the NCC is the only organization to offer one for NNPs.

The NNP-BC certification requires the following for application: 

  • Active U.S. nursing or APRN licensure
  • Completion of an accredited nurse practitioner program that prepares NNPs
  • Pass the certification examination within eight years of graduation

Additional Nursing Programs

If you’ve already decided that becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner is right for you, it’s important to know that there may be more than one way to get there. In addition to traditional MSN programs, there are other options to consider for those who are seeking to develop advanced knowledge in the field of neonatal care, including online nursing programs. For instance, some schools and programs, including a few of those mentioned above, offer certificates or accelerated tracks for those who wish to speed up their course of study

Weighing the options provided below may help you make an informed decision regarding your career trajectory. Here is a comprehensive list of additional program options: 

  • RN to MSN Programs: An RN to MSN program is a bridge program for licensed RNs. The program curriculum combines BSN and MSN coursework to prepare students for roles that typically require an MSN-trained nurse.
  • BSN to MSN Programs: A BSN to MSN program is for BSN holders who are interested in furthering their formal education by earning an MSN or are working toward NNP certification.
  • Accelerated Programs: Accelerated nursing programs are available to students who want to complete their required coursework within a shorter period of time than a traditional degree program calls for.
  • Postgraduate/Post-Master’s Certificate: This certificate is available to MSN graduates who wish to study a specialty area that may not have been included in their MSN program.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs: NNPs interested in advanced practice or leadership positions may consider enrolling in one of the many DNP programs available, in order to gain in-depth knowledge in advanced clinical nursing and other related topics.
  • Ph.D. in Nursing Programs: These types of programs are for nurses or NNPs who wish to pursue university-level clinical research.  

Sponsored Online Nursing Programs

Sponsored

Earn a Master of Science in Nursing online from Simmons University.

  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Preparation to pursue certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Part-time, full-time, and extended plans of study

Earn an MS in Nursing online from Georgetown University.

  • Earn your MS in Nursing in as few as 23 months
  • Choose from one of four APRN specialty areas: AG-ACNP, FNP, NM/WHNP, or WHNP
  • Gain hands-on clinical experience in evidence-based practice

Earn an M.S. in Nursing online at the Wegmans School of Nursing

  • The Wegmans School of Nursing is ranked among the top 100 nursing schools nationally, and is No. 6 in New York state1
  • Part-time and accelerated tracks available
  • Four program options: PCFNP, PMHNP, AGACNP, AGPCNP

Earn your MSN online from USC’s Top-Ranked School of Social Work.

  • Prepares RNs to pursue board certification as family nurse practitioners
  • Earn a CCNE-accredited MSN in as few as 21 months
  • Choose from part-time and full-time study options

1 U.S. News & World Report, 2022 Best Nursing Schools: Master’s. Ranked in 2021.

Sponsored

Scholarships for NNP and Nursing Students

Nonprofits as well as accredited online BSN and MSN programs may offer a variety of nursing scholarships and opportunities for financial aid. Explore a few options for supplementing the cost of your program’s tuition below: 

  • Scholarship from the Foundation for Neonatal Research and Education: Aspiring neonatal nurses and nurse practitioners may apply for a scholarship from the FNRE if they are pursuing a BSN, MSN, DNP, or masters’/post-master’s degree in nursing administration or management.
  • March of Dimes Graduate Nursing Scholarships: Applicants to the March of Dimes scholarship must be an RN, enrolled in a graduate program with a focus on maternal-child nursing and be a member of a professional organization for neonatal nurses of midwives.
  • AACN Scholarships & Financial Aid: The American Association of Colleges of Nursing offers opportunities for future nurses and nurse practitioners to apply for scholarships, grants, provides resources on loan forgiveness and other forms of aid.

FAQs

Becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner takes years of work, so it’s important to know what the process involves. Here are a few common questions and answers for aspiring NNPs.

How do online neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) programs work?

The obvious distinction between online NNP programs and onsite programs is the distance. Online programs are typically taken from afar. But that doesn’t mean these programs sacrifice the quality of the education or the classroom environment that you may find offline. You’ll still be expected to show up for class (if your program includes synchronous sessions), report on simulated laboratory sessions, complete assignments on time, and fulfill clinical experience in-person. 

How long does it take to complete an NNP program?

The timeframe by which you might complete an NNP program varies, depending on the program and your specific needs. MSN programs typically take between two and four years to complete, which includes required clinical hours. Your decision to enroll in a full-time, part-time, or accelerated program may affect the length of your program. Look at the outlined curriculum for each program you’re interested in before applying. 

Can I complete an online NNP program without a nursing degree?

Even if you don’t already have a nursing degree, there are direct-entry programs that make pursuing a career as an NNP a possibility. You may look for direct-entry MSN programs which are designed for aspiring professionals without a background in the field. 

What is the difference between NNP with an MSN vs DNP?  

The difference between the MSN and DNP routes may not be immediately apparent. Primarily, the distinction comes down to job placement. Nurses with a master’s degree may typically practice in a clinical setting while those with a doctoral degree may seek leadership, strategy, or research positions. 

Information last updated October 2020.