Online Bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP Programs

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Clarke, FNP, MSN, RN, MSSW

Table of Contents

Aspiring professionals can pursue two main types of online master of science in nursing (MSN) programs with a specialization in family nurse practitioner (FNP). Both require registered nurses (RNs) to have completed bachelor’s degrees from accredited institutions, with the type of required bachelor’s degree as their primary difference.

Online bachelor’s-to-MSN family nurse practitioner bridge programs, sometimes referred to as RN-to-MSN bridge programs, accept RNs who have earned any type of bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. These programs still require each candidate to hold an active, unrestricted RN license in their state of residence and thus require an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma in nursing. However, they do not require a BSN for admission. Almost every school that offers a bridge track also accepts students with BSNs.

Online BSN-to-MSN FNP programs only accept RNs who have completed a BSN program. RNs with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than nursing are not eligible for admission into these programs.

This page focuses on online MSN FNP programs that accept RNs who have completed bachelor’s degrees in fields other than nursing. This page does not contain programs that require a BSN for admission.

Featured Online Programs (RN License Required)

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For individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and wish to earn an MSN without earning a second bachelor’s degree in nursing first, bachelor’s-to-MSN programs may save time and units. Some nursing schools also refer to bachelor’s-to-MSN programs as online RN-to-MSN programs.

However, online BSN-to-MSN FNP programs differ from conventional RN-to-MSN programs, which require either an ADN or diploma in nursing for admission. These programs usually require fewer units to graduate and typically culminate in an MSN only, instead of a BSN and MSN earned together.

For BSN Graduates
Our online BSN-to-MSN FNP programs page contains detailed information on bridge programs for students who possess BSNs and aim to earn MSNs. We recommend visiting our degree page for a deeper look into those programs.
For ADN/Diploma in Nursing Graduates without Bachelor’s Degrees
Students who possess ADNs or diplomas without bachelor’s degrees can explore bridge programs to earn MSNs. Our online RN-to-MSN FNP degree page includes greater detail about these pathways.
Direct-Entry MSN Programs
Direct-entry MSN programs do not require applicants to hold RN licensure. These programs, which require completion of a bachelor’s degree program, work best for students looking to change careers and enter the field of nursing.

Admission Requirements for Online Bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP Programs

As with other types of nursing programs, accredited online bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP programs maintain rigorous admission requirements. Though they do not require a BSN, these programs require that applicants possess bachelor’s degrees in any field and active RN licenses in their state of residence.

Licensure as an RN in any state typically requires an ADN or a diploma in nursing from an accredited institution. Applicants should also demonstrate a commitment to nursing through professional work as an RN before applying.

While specific admission requirements vary from program to program, in general applicants to online bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP programs should fulfill the following:

  • Earn and maintain an active, unrestricted RN license
  • Complete an ADN or a diploma in nursing from a program that has been accredited by either the CCNE or ACEN
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (most programs also have minimum GPA requirements)
  • Complete certain prerequisite courses (see below) with a grade of C or better
  • Fulfill one or more years of professional work as an RN
  • Submit letters of recommendation
  • Submit a personal statement that explains one’s professional goals and qualifications

Prerequisite Courses for Online Bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP Programs

Bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP programs typically expect applicants to have completed certain core nursing courses before applying. Candidates typically fulfill this coursework through their ADN or nursing diploma programs, including:

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
    Coursework covers the structure and function of the different organ systems, tissues, and cells within the human body. Students delve into the skeletal, muscular, digestive, nervous, and endocrine systems, the different tissues and cells that comprise these systems, and how each system contributes to the overall health of a human being. Instructors consider common diseases and conditions that affect the human body, and how they operate on the cellular, tissue, and organ systems levels.

  • Medical Microbiology
    This course explores microorganisms and the disease risk they pose to humans. Students review how the human immune system reacts to microorganisms and how vaccines and other medications counter harmful diseases and conditions. Coursework covers the ways diseases can spread in a medical setting and essential sanitation practices.

  • Human Development Across the Lifespan
    Instructors offer an overview of the physical, psychological, and social changes that humans undergo across the lifespan, from infancy to adulthood. Enrollees study how humans interact differently with other people and their environment at different stages in their lives, along with how these interactions affect their physical, mental, and emotional health.

  • Ethics in Medicine
    Students explore common ethical issues faced by nurses and other medical personnel. This course investigates how to identify and address ethical challenges in patient care.

  • Statistics
    Enrollees find and describe patterns in statistical data to conduct a statistical study and analyze its results. They also use the principles of probability to anticipate and analyze trends.

Some online bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP programs may allow candidates to apply without fulfilling all of their prerequisite courses, as long as they complete the classes before enrolling in the program. Applicants should check with the admissions offices of their prospective schools to confirm any required prerequisites before applying.

Curriculum Details for Online Bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP Programs

Bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP programs generally require 45-70 academic credits and can take 15-36 months to complete, depending on full- or part-time enrollment.

While these programs present an accelerated option for individuals without BSNs who wish to earn their MSNs, such programs may require students to take several undergraduate-level courses in preparation for rigorous, graduate-level classes. The number of prerequisite or bachelor’s-level courses also affects the time it takes to complete one of these programs.

Bridge (Bachelor’s-Level) Courses

Some bachelor’s-to-MSN programs require students to complete a few bachelor’s-level courses (sometimes known as bridge courses) before beginning their graduate-level MSN classes. While the number and type of bridge courses for online bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP programs vary among schools, they may include:

  • Leadership and Management in Nursing

    This course explores the role that nurses play in a larger healthcare team and the healthcare system as a whole. Nurses use their knowledge of healthcare, medical ethics, and clinical decision-making to provide competent and effective care.

  • Evidence-Based Nursing Practice

    Enrollees learn to integrate clinical knowledge, medical evidence, and patient input into a sound healthcare plan. Instructors explore how to evaluate the outcomes of medical treatments and implement effective changes to treatment as necessary.

  • Health Assessment with a Focus on At-Risk Populations

    Coursework covers essential principles and methods of taking accurate and effective health assessments, including conducting physical examinations, using diagnostic reasoning to identify potential conditions, and maintaining accurate medical histories. Students focus on the common conditions and health concerns of vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, patients with genetic conditions, and overweight or diabetic patients.

Graduate-Level Courses for MSN FNP Programs

After completing any relevant undergraduate coursework, online bachelor’s-to-MSN FNP students take graduate-level courses in advanced health assessment, pharmacology, and advanced physiology. Students enrolled in MSN FNP programs should expect to take classes on the primary care of different patient populations, such as children, women, and the elderly. Most graduate level courses require the completion of clinical hours alongside coursework.

While course content and titles vary across programs, typical MSN FNP coursework may include the following:

  • Advanced Health Assessment

    This class builds on previous health assessment coursework and students’ knowledge of human physiology and pathophysiology, and teaches them how to take advanced physical assessments and medical histories. Students learn to integrate their knowledge of medical principles and human biology with medical evidence to make sound diagnoses and clinical decisions.

  • Primary Care of Women and the Childrearing Family

    Students learn to evaluate, care for, and monitor the health of women and the childbearing/childrearing family. Topics include women’s general and reproductive health from adolescence to menopause, family health education, and the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions in childbearing and childrearing families. Other course content includes the physical, psychological, pathophysiological, cultural, and social considerations nurses should take into account when caring for the childrearing family unit.

  • Primary Care of the Aged and Maturing Family

    Coursework covers assessment and care for the health of middle-aged and older adults within the context of the family unit. Enrollees consider chronic and acute conditions that commonly affect older individuals, along with how to treat them. Instructors explain how to integrate health education and preventative care into a sound healthcare plan for aging members of the family.

  • Advanced Human Physiology and Pathophysiology

    Learners explore how the human body functions at the organ systems, organ, tissue, and molecular levels, along with how the human body reacts to different types of diseases and conditions. Enrollees learn to apply their knowledge of human anatomy and pathophysiology to diagnosis, treatment, and patient counseling.

  • Advanced Pharmacology

    Instructors explore the different classes of medicines and their use in patient treatment, including how different medical treatments interact with human tissues and organ systems and deciding on appropriate doses.

Reviewed by:

Reviewed by Elizabeth Clarke, FNP, MSN, RN, MSSW

Elizabeth Clarke, FNP, MSN, RN, MSSW

Elizabeth Clarke (Poon) is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. A native of Boston, MA, Clarke tired of the cold and snowy winters and moved to Coral Gables, FL in order to complete her undergraduate degree in nursing at the University of Miami. After working for several years in the UHealth and Jackson Memorial Medical systems in the cardiac and ER units, Clarke returned to the University of Miami to complete her master of science in nursing. Since completing her MSN degree, Clarke has worked providing primary and urgent care to pediatric populations.