FAQ: Are there any online BSN to APRN/NP programs?

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Registered nurses (RNs) who want to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) or nurse practitioners (NPs) can consider enrolling in BSN-to-APRN or BSN-to-NP programs. Many colleges and universities offer these paths through flexible online formats.

Degree-seekers should ensure that their bridge programs offer the appropriate type of accreditation for certification. During their curriculum, students can focus on a particular scope of practice, graduating ready to complete their certification exams and begin practicing professionally.

This page offers information about program options, curriculum requirements, clinical practice components, and specialization opportunities.

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Online BSN-to-APRN Program Overview

RNs with bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degrees can become certified APRNs through several online graduate degree types. Before candidates can complete their national APRN certification exam, they must earn a master of science in nursing (MSN) or higher with a focus on an advanced clinical specialty.

Licensed RNs with BSNs can pursue their master’s through online BSN-to-MSN bridge programs. These nurses can also enroll in BSN-to-doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs to earn their doctorates and APRN certification simultaneously. Enrollees will encounter different program requirements and components based on the particular college or university they attend.

Program Requirements

Most programs require 40-70 credits of coursework to explore advanced pharmacology, health systems innovation, and health promotion and disease prevention. During their program, learners must complete graduate-level specialization courses and general advanced nursing concepts.

An RN interested in earning a DNP without completing a separate master’s program can enroll in a BSN-to-DNP format, usually requiring between 65-95 credits of coursework, along with about 1,000 clinical hours.

Clinical Practicum Requirements

APRN students complete most of their coursework through online instruction, but they also need to complete clinical practice hours. Learners can complete these hours at hospitals or other medical facilities near their residence under the direct supervision of approved preceptors. Some schools help match each RN with an approved placement site and preceptor.

Program Curriculum

Specific coursework varies by school, degree level, and previous educational or professional experience. At the master’s level, the curriculum explores advanced physiology, leadership in advanced nursing, and advanced health assessment. Students focus on core nursing concepts and specialty course topics. Doctoral degree-seekers focus on detailed coursework to review advanced practice nursing responsibilities, emphasizing topics in organizational and systems leadership, interprofessional collaboration, and healthcare policy.

Online BSN-to-APRN Degree Specializations

Students interested in BSN-to-NP programs can often explore specialization opportunities geared toward almost every APRN specialty career area. Learners who complete DNPs or MSNs in any specialization qualify to sit for national certification exams in their chosen patient focus area.

Online students enrolled in BSN-to-APRN degrees can consider specializations in the following advanced clinical concentration areas:

  • Women’s health nurse practitioner
  • Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner
  • Pediatric primary care nurse practitioner
  • Pediatric acute care nurse practitioner
  • Neonatal nurse practitioner
  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Certified nurse midwife
  • Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner
  • Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner

Many schools offer certified registered nurse anesthesia programs in hybrid or campus-based formats, rather than entirely online.

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