A total of two schools in Colorado offer online graduate degree programs designed to help registered nurses (RNs) become family nurse practitioners (FNPs). The University of Colorado Colorado Springs has three online degree paths in the specialty, giving students the chance to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Post-Master’s Certificate, or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) alongside FNP certification. The second institution with an online FNP program is Regis University in Denver, which offers an online MSN program open to RNs who possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
All of the graduate FNP programs at the schools mentioned above are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and deliver lectures through either asynchronous or synchronous online instruction. While students can expect to complete the bulk of their coursework online, they still must perform clinical practice hours at a local health care facility, and may be required to visit campus throughout the program for orientation events or hands-on training sessions. For more information about online FNP programs in Colorado, and to learn about FNP licensing requirements in the state, see the sections below.
Program Information: Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs in Colorado
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) offers three online degree paths for RNs who want to specialize as FNPs. Their online MSN program is designed for students who have earned a BSN, and requires the completion of 46 to 48 credits. With start dates in the Fall and Spring, the program can be completed in roughly 32 months (eight semesters) when enrolled full-time, or 44 months (11 semesters) when enrolled on a part-time basis. BSN to MSN students must fulfill a total of 630 clinical hours in order to graduate; however, they are not required to visit campus at any point during their studies.
For RNs or APRNs who already possess an MSN, but want to pursue certification as an FNP, UCCS offers a part-time Post-Master’s Certificate program in the specialty. This degree path consists of 25 to 34 credits (depending on the number of required courses students already completed as part of their previous graduate program), and can be finished in 20 to 32 months (5 to 8 semesters). Students must also perform 630 clinical practice hours as part of the Post-Master’s FNP program to fulfill the requirements for graduation.
Finally, students looking to pursue both their doctorate and FNP certification can do so through UCCS’s online DNP program, which requires a BSN for admission. Comprised of 70 credits, this program entails approximately three years (nine semesters) of full-time study, or five years (15 semesters) for those pursuing their DNP part-time. BSN to DNP students must complete 1,170 clinical hours over the course of their studies in order to qualify for graduation. As with the online MSN program at UCCS, both the Post-Master’s Certificate and DNP program require no on-campus sessions.
Located in Denver, Regis University offers one online degree path in the FNP specialty: a BSN to MSN program. This pathway requires the completion of 48 course credits, as well as 630 clinical practice hours. RNs can expect to finish the full-time program in around two years of study, with admission occurring in the Fall. Unlike the programs at UCCS, which utilize asynchronous instruction, Regis University’s online BSN to MSN program is delivered through synchronous instruction, meaning lectures are delivered in real-time. Students must participate in a live online classroom once a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. In addition, they are required to visit the main Regis University campus five times throughout the program for clinical intensives.
Colorado FNP Licensing Requirements
In order to practice as an FNP in the state of Colorado, students must obtain an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) license from the Colorado Board of Nursing, and be added to their advanced practice registry. The Board, a branch of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Division of Professions and Occupations, recognizes four types of APNs: Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), and Nurse Practitioner (NP). Students who want to work as an FNP in the state must fulfill all of the requirements for NP licensure, starting with having an active RN license in Colorado, or an RN license with multistate privileges from another nurse compact state. Next, RNs will need to complete a graduate or post-graduate degree program in their specialty from a school accredited by the CCNE, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), or a similar accrediting agency approved by the Colorado Board of Nursing. Once students have earned an MSN or higher from a properly accredited FNP program, they are eligible to sit for a national APRN certification exam.
One of the requirements for APN licensure in Colorado is national certification in an advanced nursing specialty. In order to become certified as an FNP, RNs must successfully pass an examination administered by either the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB). These exams require students to hold an MSN, Post-Master’s Certificate, or DNP, and have completed at least 500 clinical practice hours under the supervision of a nurse preceptor or other medical professional. After students have obtained national certification, they can begin the APN registration process on the Colorado Board of Nursing website.
As part of their application, prospective APNs will need to provide verification of national certification, as well as submit official transcripts from their graduate or post-graduate degree program. Those applying for NP licensure must also select at least one population focus, such as Family/Across the Lifespan, Neonatal, Psychiatric-Mental Health, or Women’s Health/Gender-Related. Students who wish to register for multiple populations are required to supply proof of education in each focus. Once the online application has been submitted, along with the required documents and a $75 application fee, an Applicant Specialist will review all of the information. Prospective APNs can monitor the status of their application on the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations Online Services Portal.
Universities in Colorado with Online FNP Programs
|Regis University||MSN (BSN Required)||Master of Science, Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner|
|University of Colorado Colorado Springs||DNP (BSN Required)||Online Doctorate of Nursing Practice (BSN to DNP) - Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner|
|University of Colorado Colorado Springs||MSN (BSN Required)||Online MS Nursing - Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner|
|University of Colorado Colorado Springs||Post-MSN Certificate New or Second Specialty (any MSN accepted)||Online Post-Master's Certificate - Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner|