Choose the Best Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Programs for You in 2021

If you’re interested in a nurse practitioner role that works with infants, children, adolescents and young adults, you might be interested in becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner. Pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) programs include on-campus and online pediatric acute care and primary care nurse practitioner programs.

Accredited Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Programs

UniversityLocationLengthEnrollment Options
Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA2-3 yearsPart time
Maryville UniversitySt. Louis, MO28 monthsFull time
Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, VA2-3 yearsPart time, full time
Saint Louis UniversitySt. Louis, MO2-3 yearsFull time
Texas Tech UniversityLubbock, TX2-3 yearsFull time
Thomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphia, PA2-5 yearsPart time, full time
The University of Alabama at BirminghamBirmingham, AL2-3 yearsFull time
University of ColoradoAurora, CO2-3 yearsFull time
University of Missouri-Kansas CityKansas City, MO2-3 yearsPart time, full time
University of South AlabamaMobile, AL2-5 yearsPart time, full time
The University of Texas at El PasoEl Paso, TX2 yearsFull time
Vanderbilt UniversityNashville, TN1-2 yearsPart time, full time

Drexel University

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, MSN Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and MSN Pediatric Primary Care and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (Dual Option)
  • Enrollment Options: Part time
  • Coursework Credits: 52 credits for PNP-PC, 57 credits for PNP-AC, or 62 credits for the Dual Option
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 640 hours PNP-PC, 720 hours for PNP-ACA, or 840 for the Dual Option
  • Length of Program: 2+ years for PNP-PC, 3 years for PNP-AC, or 3+ years for the Dual Option
  • Admission Requirements:
    • BSN from program fully accredited by National League of Nursing (NLN) and/or American Association Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above for BSN
    • Current, unrestricted U.S. RN license
    • Official transcripts
    • Two professional letters of recommendation from either previous or immediate supervisors or former nursing faculty members
    • Personal statement (under 1,000 words) of why you chose the program, future plans with the degree and how current work experience enhances participation in the program
    • Resume
    • Additionally, for the MSN Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (Dual Option) programs: current PALS certification and at least one year of nursing experience in a pediatric acute care setting

Learn more about the online MSN pediatric nurse practitioner program at Drexel University.

Maryville University 

  • Program Name: Online Master of Science in Nursing – Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (MSN PNP)
  • Enrollment Options: Full time
  • Coursework Credits: 44 credits
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 580 hours 
  • Length of Program: 28 months
  • Admission Requirements:
    • BSN degree from a regionally accredited institution and Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)/Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)-accredited program
    • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale in all college work
    • Current unencumbered licensure as a registered nurse in the United States
    • Three letters of recommendation: minimum of one academic and two clinical
    • Copy of curriculum vitae (CV) or resume
    • 500-word essay describing your interest in becoming a nurse practitioner and how you plan to use your education to affect patient outcomes
    • Minimum of one year of current professional nursing experience

Learn more about the Online Master of Science in Nursing – Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program at Maryville University.

Old Dominion University

  • Program Name: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Online
  • Enrollment Options: Part time, full time
  • Coursework Credits: 49 credits
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 560 clinical practicum hours
  • Length of Program: 5-9 semesters
  • Admission Requirements:
    • Current unencumbered/unrestricted RN license in Virginia or a Compact State
    • BSN or RN with a bachelor’s degree in a related field from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Completion of an undergraduate statistics course and an undergraduate physical/health assessment course
    • 1 year of current clinical nursing experience, preferably post-baccalaureate
    • GRE scores required if GPA is below 3.5
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Written statement on career goals and reasons for seeking certification as a PNP

Learn more about the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Online program at Old Dominion University.

Saint Louis University

  • Program Name: Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Enrollment Options: Full time
  • Coursework Credits: 36 credits
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 525 clinical hours
  • Length of Program: 7 semesters
  • Admission Requirements:
    • BSN from accredited university
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.25 on 4.0 scale
    • Unencumbered RN license in the state where you’ll complete clinical practice hours
    • Official transcripts
    • Three professional references
    • CV/resume
    • Professional goal statement

Learn more about the Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program at St. Louis University.

Texas Tech University

  • Program Name: MSN Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (MSN PNP-AC) and MSN Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (MSN PNP-PC)
  • Enrollment Options: Full time
  • Coursework Credits: 51 credits for PNP-AC and 49 credits for PNP-PC
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 525 clinical hours 
  • Length of Program: 7-8 semesters 
  • Admission Requirements:
    • Official transcripts
    • Valid unencumbered RN license
    • BSN from a regionally accredited college or university with accreditation from CCNE or ACEN
    • At least a C grade in undergraduate courses in research and statistics
    • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for all coursework leading to BSN
    • Personal statement/essay 
    • Three professional letters of reference
    • 2 years of RN pediatric experience
    • PALS certification

Learn more about the MSN Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program and the MSN Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program at Texas Tech University.

Thomas Jefferson University

  • Program Name: Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Enrollment Options: Part time, full time
  • Coursework Credits: 36 credits
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 672 clinical practicum hours
  • Length of Program: 2-5 years
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • BSN degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA
    • Current active RN license
    • Grade of B or above in an introductory bachelor’s level course in elementary statistics, in an undergraduate level course in physical assessment and in an introductory BSN-level course in nursing research
    • Official transcripts
    • Resume/CV
    • Personal statement/essay describing professional goals
    • Letters of recommendation from two professional contacts

Learn more about the Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program at Thomas Jefferson University.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

  • Program Name: MSN Nurse Practitioner Pathway
  • Enrollment Options: Full time
  • Coursework Credits: 45 credits for PNP-PC, 45 credits for PNP-AC, or 69 credits for the Dual Pediatric Acute and Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 600 clinical hours for PNP-PC & PNP-AC, or 1,200 hours for Dual Option
  • Length of Program: 6-7 semesters
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • BSN degree from regionally accredited institution and nationally accredited nursing program
    • Unencumbered and unrestricted RN license to practice in the state where you’ll complete your clinical practicum
    • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 
    • GRE scores required for students with less than a 3.2 GPA
    • Three letters of professional reference
    • Official transcripts
    • Proof of completion of a descriptive statistics course

Learn more about the MSN Nurse Practitioner Pathway program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

University of Colorado

  • Program Name: MS: Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP-AC) and MS: Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PNP-PC)
  • Enrollment Options: Full time
  • Coursework Credits: 37 credits for PNP-AC, 35 credits for PNP-PC
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 585 hours for PNP-AC or 540 hours for PNP-PC
  • Length of Program: 3 years for PNP-AC or 2 years and 8 months for PNP-PC
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • Bachelor’s degree in nursing from a regionally accredited institution and an ACEN or CCNE accredited program
    • Undergraduate nursing degree GPA of at least 3.0
    • Undergraduate nursing research and statistics course at an accredited institution with at least a C grade
    • Essay 
    • CV/resume
    • Current, unencumbered RN license
    • Three letters of reference, with at least one reference from an academic source
    • Official transcripts

Learn more about the Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program and Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program at University of Colorado.

University of Missouri-Kansas City

  • Program Name: Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP-PC) and Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP-AC)
  • Enrollment Options: Part time, full time
  • Coursework Credits: 46 credits for the PNP program, 52 credits for the PNP-AC
  • Clinical Practice Hours: For the PNP program, 660 clinical hours plus 90 lab hours; for the PNP-AC program, 660 clinical hours
  • Length of Program: 2-3 years
  • Admission Requirements:
    • BSN or MSN from college or university nationally recognized by nursing accrediting agency
    • Unencumbered RN licensure in the state in which the student completes clinical requirements
    • Minimum 3.2 GPA
    • Personal interviews

Learn more about the PNP/AC PNP program at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

 University of South Alabama

  • Program Name: Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Enrollment Options: Part time, full time 
  • Coursework Credits: 45 credit hours
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 600 clinical hours
  • Length of Program: 2-5 years
  • Admission Requirements:
    • 2 years of pediatric nursing experience
    • GPA of 3.0 or greater for BSN degree
    • Citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.
    • Current RN licensure with no restrictions
    • Official transcripts

Learn more about the Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program and the Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program at University of South Alabama.

The University of Texas at El Paso

  • Program Name: Pediatrics with Acute Care Focus (Pediatric Nurse Practitioner or PNP-AC) and Pediatrics with Primary Care Focus (Pediatric Nurse Practitioner or PNP-PC)
  • Enrollment Options: Full time
  • Coursework Credits: 46 hours for PNP-PC and 54 hours for PNP-AC 
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 675 hours for PNP-PC and 765 hours for PNP-AC
  • Length of Program: 2 calendar years
  • Admission Requirements: 
    • Current RN license in good standing in state or country where clinical or practicum coursework is completed
    • BSN from an accredited college or university in the U.S. or equivalent education at a foreign institution
    • Unofficial transcripts; official transcripts must be sent after admission
    • Statement of purpose 
    • Resume/CV

Learn more about the PNP-AC program and the PNP-PC program at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Vanderbilt University

  • Program Name: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care (PNP-AC) and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care (PNP-PC)
  • Enrollment Options: Part time, full time
  • Coursework Credits: 40 credits
  • Clinical Practice Hours: 700 clinical hours for BSN-to-MSN, 500 clinical hours for PNP-AC, or 650 clinical hours for PNP-PC 
  • Length of Program: 12-24 months
  • Admission Requirements:
    • Statement of Purpose 
    • ASN, BSN or MSN degree with at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale
    • For PNP-AC, at least two years of RN nursing experience in acute, inpatient pediatrics or one year in a pediatric critical care or emergency department setting; for PNP-PC, no RN experience is required
    • Official transcripts from all colleges or universities 
    • Three letters of academic or professional reference
    • RN applicants must graduate before enrolling from an ACEN- or CCNEaccredited school and hold an unencumbered RN license

Learn more about the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care program and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care program at Vanderbilt University.

Choosing an Online School for Your PNP Program

With so many PNP online choices, it helps to compare programs to ensure what you choose matches with your career goals. Consider the following factors and talk with each school’s admissions department to find a program that aligns with your objectives.

Your Goals

There are a variety of pathways to becoming a PNP. Some programs offer both acute and primary care PNP specialties, including dual programs where you can learn both specialties in a single program.

There are also accelerated MSN programs to get your degree more quickly, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs with pediatric specialties. A DNP may help lead to careers in nursing leadership and administration.

Think about what type of career responsibilities you want, what pediatric nursing area you want to specialize in and how long you want to be in school.

Program Accreditation

Nursing school accreditation is a process schools go through to meet national standards of academic quality. State licensure boards may require that you complete a nursing program from an accredited school before awarding you a license.There are two main nursing school accreditation organizations: the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). These organizations ensure accredited programs are of high quality, meet nursing standards for professional licensure and accreditation, and have experienced faculty and staff to support student education and development.

Program Length

How long you’re willing to be in school will influence the online pediatric nurse practitioner program you choose. If you want to space out your schooling, you might consider part-time programs. If you want to complete your education at a faster pace, look into accelerated or full-time programs.

Admission Requirements

Most online PNP programs require at least a BSN degree from a college or university accredited by the CCNE and/or ACEN. Students will also need to send official transcripts and meet minimum GPA requirements, generally ranging from at least a 3.0 or 3.2 in the last 60 credit hours of the BSN program. There may also be course prerequisites, like completion of a statistics course.

Applicants typically will need an unencumbered, active RN license to be admitted into a PNP program, because the program will require clinical practice hours. A resume/CV, personal statement and letters of recommendation are also typically required. 

Clinical Hours Experience

Most online pediatric NP programs require completion of clinical practice hours before graduation. These hours ensure a student has practiced pediatric nursing in a real-world environment under professional academic supervision, so they can get the necessary feedback.

Schools will have various clinical practice hour requirements. To sit for the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) exams, you’ll need at least 500 clinical practice hours, but the PNCB recommends at least 600 clinical hours for in-person and online pediatric acute care nurse practitioner programs.

Potential Salary and Jobs

The number of jobs for nurse practitioners is projected to grow 52% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. The 2019 median nurse practitioner salary was $109,820 per year, the BLS reports.

Since PNPs work with patients up to young adults, there’s variety in the PNP career field. PNPs may work as primary care specialists performing wellness exams and providing medical care in NP offices, or they may work in hospitals or emergency treatment centers as acute care specialists. PNPs may also work in community healthcare clinics and surgical centers. Nursing salaries vary based on your work setting.

Certifications and Licenses

Once you’ve graduated from PNP school, you’ll need to apply for state certification as a pediatric nurse practitioner or acute care pediatric nurse practitioner in the state where you want to work. You’ll likely already have a registered nurse license, since that’s a typical requirement for PNP school. Note, however, that nursing licensure by state varies. You may be able to work as an entry-level RN in pediatrics without certification, but certification may be able to help you advance your career.

The PNCB offers the Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care (CPNP-PC) credential and the Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner – Acute Care (CPNP-AC) credential. Once you’ve achieved one or both of these credentials, you can add them to your nursing title. They’ll need to be renewed every year through the board. You’ll also have to fulfill state nursing licensing requirements to stay active.

Additional Nursing Programs

In addition to traditional MSN degrees from an on-campus or online nurse practitioner program to become a PNP, there are other online nursing programs that may fit your experience and/or desired school experience. These include:

  • Accelerated PNP programs: An accelerated nursing program condenses education into a shorter time frame for non-nursing degree holders. You may be able to complete the program in less than 18 months. This may be a good fit if you’re able to devote your schedule to school full time and can handle a more intense, condensed schedule, with the benefit of graduating earlier.
  • Bridge programs (RN to MSN): If you don’t yet have a BSN but you’re working as an RN, you might consider an RN-to-MSN online program with a pediatric nurse practitioner focus. These programs include coursework similar to nursing coursework in a BSN program, as well as advanced nursing coursework you’d learn in a traditional online MSN program. Bridge programs typically have more credit hours and can be longer than traditional BSN-to-MSN programs, but they may enable you to earn a graduate degree without starting with an undergraduate degree in nursing.
  • Post master’s certificates: If you already have an MSN but want to specialize in pediatrics nursing, there are certificates for post-master’s PNP online programs. These programs are shorter than traditional MSN programs and provide you with the knowledge and experience to sit for the PNCB exams to get credentialed.
  • DNP PNP programs: A DNP, or Doctor of Nursing Practice, is the top practice-based nursing degree. DNP programs are longer than BSN-to-MSN programs. But, since you are learning more and are getting a higher-level degree, you may be able to pursue more advanced clinical nursing roles. These may include research-based nursing roles and leadership positions.

Sponsored Online Nursing Programs

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

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Scholarships for Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Students

There are various nursing financial aid opportunities for future PNPs. Here are some scholarships for PNP students:

FAQs

How do Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) programs work?

PNP programs include a mix of classroom lecture and clinical work supervised by an academic professional. In online pediatric nurse practitioner programs, students attend lectures and submit coursework online. In on-campus programs, students attend class in a physical classroom.

Should I enroll in an online PNP program?

If you crave flexibility and don’t want to have to relocate to attend the PNP program of your choice, PNP online programs may be beneficial. Online pediatric nurse practitioner programs are generally taught by on-campus instructors and feature the same coursework as on-campus programs. Students can access classes on a schedule that works for them and study and complete coursework on their own device, from any connected location.

How long do you go to school to become a pediatric nurse practitioner?

It depends on the program and whether it’s part time or full time. Most full-time MSN PNP programs take two to three years to complete. With accelerated MSN programs, you may be able to complete school in 18 months. If you already have an MSN, PNP certificate programs can take less than two years to complete.

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

Many PNP online programs require BSN degrees. You may be able to enter online pediatric nurse practitioner programs with RN licensure, however. These programs are called “direct entry programs,” in which you can earn your MSN with an RN licensure—without completing a previous nursing degree.

What is the difference between a PNP with an MSN vs. DNP?

DNP PNP programs focus on leadership, research, employee management and statistical analysis in nursing. These programs prepare students for executive or research roles in nursing.

MSN PNP programs focus more on practical medical skills required to directly help patients. Both DNP PNP and MSN PNP graduates will be prepared to provide patient care, but DNP PNP students can expect to learn more about healthcare system operations and data research.

What is the difference between a PNP-AC vs PNP-PC?

A PNP-AC is a pediatric acute care nurse practitioner. These nurse practitioners work with children, teens and young adults from newborn to 21 years old who are acutely, critically or chronically ill. PNP-ACs work in settings like hospitals, pediatric emergency departments and pediatric intensive care units.

A PNP-PC is a pediatric nurse practitioner who works in primary care. PNP-PCs serve patients from newborn to 21 years old to ensure healthy development. PNP-PCs work in PNP primary care offices, where they prescribe medication, perform lab work and diagnose tests.

Information on this page was last retrieved in September 2020.