Nurse professionals seeking licensure as family nurse practitioners (FNPs) in Illinois have several options. Five universities in the state offer online FNP programs, according to prospective students’ experience, education, and interests.
The first possibility is a post-master’s (or post-graduate) FNP certificate—open to NPs seeking a new specialization—which Saint Francis Medical Center, the University of St. Francis, Chamberlain University, and Bradley University all provide. The second is a master’s degree (MSN-FNP) for registered nurses with nursing bachelor’s degrees (BSN), which is offered at the University of St. Francis and Chamberlain University. The third is an MSN program for registered nurses with non-nursing undergraduate degrees, only offered at the University of St. Francis. The fourth option is a doctorate of nurse practice (DNP), which can be found at Bradley University, Saint Francis Medical Center, and Rush University, which also has BSN and MSN pathways to the doctoral degree.
Each of these nurse practitioner programs combines online courses with onsite clinical hours, and some require campus visits. The programs at the University of St. Francis, Chamberlain, and Bradley University are offered 100 percent online with no required campus visits. The University of St. Francis and Rush University, by contrast, offer hybrid course delivery in conjunction with several campus residences throughout their programs.
Rush is the only university to require the GRE for admission for select students. Only applicants with a cumulative pre-licensure GPA under 3.0 or an MSN GPA less than 3.5 are asked to submit their scores.
All of these family nurse practitioner programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Read on for a description of each program, and information on FNP licensing requirements in the state of Illinois.
Program Information: Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs in Illinois
Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing offers multiple part-time online programs for family nurse practitioners. The MSN program is a four-year program that educates students about disease management, health promotion, and health education. The BSN to DNP program is a six-year program designed for nurse practitioners with undergraduate nursing degrees who wish to obtain a doctorate in nursing. And the post-graduate certificate program is a four-year program for NPs with a master’s degree in nursing.
All programs combine didactic coursework and hands-on experience. Students must go to campus once a semester during the practicum courses, which are typically held in the last two years of the programs. Each of the programs prepares students for the proper certification exams.
Coursework in the post-graduate certificate program includes topics such as epidemiology, family health care management, and both advanced pathophysiology and advanced pharmacotherapeutics across the lifespan. Please note that this program is not currently open to residents of Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, or Wisconsin.
The University of St. Francis has two graduate programs for FNPs. The MSN program consists of 28 credits of graduate and advanced practice core courses along with 19 credits of practicum coursework, which includes a clinical residency. Topics cover advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, health assessment, biostatistics and research, and evidence-based healthcare. Students have the option of taking an additional nine credits of education classes as well. The FNP post-master’s certificate includes 38 credits in pathophysiology, pharmacology, health assessment, theoretical principles, clinical management, and nursing education. Both programs are limited to residents of a few select states.
Similarly, Chamberlain University offers an MSN and a post-graduate certificate in FNP. The graduate certificate is offered to MSN holders who want to enhance their expertise in family nursing. The MSN-FNP specialty track, on the other hand, is designed for BSN holders. It prepares advanced practice nurses to work in diverse settings such as pediatric primary care, college health, women’s health, family practice, internal medicine, and retail clinics. The curriculum combines theory and practice through online coursework and clinical experience. Five sequential practicum courses cover diverse aspects of clinical work, including differential diagnosis and primary care, primary care of the maturing and aged family, and more. Clinical work culminates with the APN capstone practicum.
Designed for working professionals, Chamberlain’s MSN program is offered 100 percent online with no mandatory login times or group work. For students wishing to attend full-time, the program can be completed in as few as eight semesters.
Bradley University has three pathways for FNPs. Students learn to develop, evaluate and improve new practices and approaches in the delivery of family health, as well as transfer research findings from the laboratory setting to clinical practice. They also learn how to use evidence-based knowledge to provide informed patient care. Bradley offers both MSN- and DNP-FNP degrees for professionals with a BSN, in addition to a post-master’s certificate program for nurses with an APRN degree.
All programs are 100 percent online with no required campus visits and students complete their clinical hours at practicum sites close to their homes. Featured courses include advanced pathophysiology and pharmacology, advanced health assessment, the principles of FNP practice, and health promotion in populations. Completion of the programs require 43 credits for the certificate, 67 for the master’s, and 82 credits for the doctoral degrees.
Located in Chicago, Rush University administers a DNP-FNP degree with pathways open to both BSN and MSN holders. Rush’s programs focus on population health and the social determinants of health. The program follows a “practitioner-teacher” model, in which many program advisors and clinical faculty—in addition to being nurse educators—are practicing NPs as well.
Courses are delivered in a hybrid format, with mostly online course offerings combined with some on-campus classes. Eight campus visits are required, and clinical practice sites are offered in the Chicago area. Courses include advanced physiology, advanced pathophysiology, advanced pharmacology, population assessment and health promotion frameworks, and leadership in evolving healthcare environments. The DNP-FNP program can be taken in a part- or full-time format and can be completed in 30 to 42 months. Please note that Rush is not currently able to offer their programs to residents of Louisiana or Tennessee.
Illinois FNP Licensing Requirements
Advanced practice nurses with an FNP specialization can apply for licensure upon completion of their graduate program through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Advanced practice nurses (APNs) can apply for initial, transfer and renewal licenses through this entity, either electronically or by U.S. mail. The following is required for an initial license as a certified nurse practitioner:
- Application and $125.00 fee
- Supporting document CCA (i.e., outline of any relevant criminal convictions)
- Supporting document CT-APN (i.e., certification of licensure) from the state of original licensure and state of current licensure where one has been practicing within the last five years, if applicable
- A current copy of national nurse practitioner certification from one of the following agencies: American Academy of Nurse Practitioners; American Nurses Credentialing Center; Pediatric Nurse Certification Board; National Certification Corporation for the Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties; or the Certification Board for Urologic Nurses and Associates
- Official transcripts with school seal as proof of graduation from an advanced practice nursing program in the FNP specialization (MSN or DNP) or a post-master’s FNP certificate from a graduate-level program