Three schools in California offer online graduate nursing programs that prepare enrollees for family nurse practitioner (FNP) licensure. Samuel Merritt University (SMU) and the University of Southern California (USC) both offer online master of science in nursing (MSN) programs in the specialty. The program at SMU accepts RNs with a bachelor's degree (in a nursing or non-nursing field), while USC requires each RN to have earned a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).
Brandman University offers two online degree paths for prospective FNPs: a BSN-to-doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program and a post-doctoral certificate in the concentration.
While these programs feature online coursework, students must also complete clinical placement hours at local healthcare facilities. The FNP programs at SMU and Brandman are both accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), while USC holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Read on for more on each program, along with information regarding FNP licensing requirements in California.
Featured Online Programs (RN License Required)
Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs in California
This private health sciences school, headquartered in Oakland, offers programs at additional campus locations in Sacramento, the San Francisco Peninsula, and online. Its fully online MSN FNP prepares graduates to sit for state and national certification as primary care providers in outpatient settings.
This CCNE-accredited degree, which enrollees can complete in five semesters over 20 months, places special emphasis on training nurses to work with underserved populations in areas of healthcare scarcity. Each applicant must have completed their BSN and hold an unencumbered RN license. The program offers a $10,000 scholarship to all first-time, full-time MSN FNP online students.
USC features an online MSN FNP program that integrates training in advanced nursing practice with a social work foundation to prepare FNPs for all facets of patient care. This CCNE-accredited program requires 49-51 credits completed in five semesters of full-time enrollment or eight semesters of part-time study. Enrollees typically fulfill all program requirements in 21-33 months.
The FNP program delivers all coursework electronically, but each online learner completes 784 clinical hours and attends two on-campus intensives for skill assessments. An applicant must hold a valid RN license, one year of clinical experience, and either a BSN or MSN with an overall 3.0 GPA.
Located in Orange County, this private university specializes in innovative instructional models designed for adult learners. Unlike other FNP programs in California, this BSN-to-DNP, family/across the lifespan nurse practitioner program provides a direct pathway to a doctorate for advanced practice registered nurses and bachelor's degree-holders with an RN license.
The three-year hybrid program uses three instructional approaches: on-campus meetings held 3-4 times throughout the program, supervised clinical practicum placements where the student lives or works, and online courses that include self-directed components with real-time instruction.
This CCNE-accredited curriculum meets the learning outcomes for doctoral nursing education established by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Coursework and experience prepare graduates for leadership roles at the highest levels of clinical practice.
California FNP Licensing Requirements
An FNP who intends to practice in California must obtain a state license to ensure that they have met established qualifications to provide primary patient care. The California Board of Registered Nursing oversees advanced practice nursing licenses, including FNP certification.
An FNP applicant must complete at least an MSN with a family practice specialty area from a school accredited by the CCNE, the National League of Nursing, or another approved accreditation organization. Each candidate must hold a valid California RN license and family practice certification from a national agency, such as the American Nurse Credentialing Center.
The board requires official transcripts sent directly from the FNP program and verification of the candidate's certification, clinical competency, and clinical experience. A fingerprint-based criminal background check form, a passport-sized photograph, and a $75 fee must accompany the application.
California's FNPs renew their licenses by fulfilling 30 hours of continuing education credits from an approved provider every two years. These professionals must renew national certification separately to maintain active status.