Massachusetts is home to five schools that offer online programs for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the family nurse practitioner (FNP) specialty. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), Regis College, Simmons College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and University of Massachusetts Boston all have several online options designed to help registered nurses (RNs) earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or higher and obtain FNP certification. The FNP programs at these schools are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and will qualify graduates to sit for national APRN certification exams administered by either the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB).
Located in Boston, MCPHS University has three online pathways for prospective FNPs: a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to MSN program; an RN to MSN program, which requires an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN); and a Post-Master’s Certificate option for students who already possess an MSN. Regis College in Weston also offers an online RN to MSN program for ADN-prepared nurses, as well as an MSN program that is open to RNs with either a BSN or an ADN and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the school offers a Post-Master’s Certificate program and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program designed for nurses who have earned a BSN, and wish to pursue their doctorate without completing a separate MSN program first.
Along with a BSN to DNP program of their own, Simmons College has an RN to MSN path, and an MSN option available to RNs with a bachelor’s degree in any field (BSN or non-nursing bachelors). Students can choose from two different online DNP pathways at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, including an MSN to DNP program for RNs pursuing their first or second APRN specialty. Finally, University of Massachusetts Boston offers a Post-Master’s Certificate program with study options for both current APRNs and nurses who earned their MSN in an indirect care concentration.
All of these programs feature online coursework and lectures delivered through either asynchronous or synchronous instruction; however, students are still required to complete clinical practice hours at a health care facility in their area. One or more mandatory campus visits may also be included in the curriculum, to give students the chance to participate in face-to-face orientation events or hands-on training sessions. For more about the different online FNP programs available in Massachusetts, as well as state licensing requirements for APRNs, see the information below.
Program Information: Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs in Massachusetts
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, more commonly known as MCPHS University, has several online program options for licensed RNs who want to become FNPs. Their online MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program requires a BSN for admission, and is comprised of 42 course credits. Students must complete 630 clinical hours to graduate, as well as visit the MCPHS campus three times throughout their studies for an orientation and two residencies. This program spans six semesters, and is designed to be completed two years.
For RNs who have not yet earned a BSN, MCPHS offers an RN to MSN Bridge program in the FNP specialty, which requires an ADN and the completion of several prerequisite courses. This program consists of 62 credits, and will take three years to finish, with four mandatory campus visits. During the nine semesters, RN to MSN students must fulfill a total of 720 clinical practice hours in order to graduate with their master’s degree. The final online FNP path at MCPHS is a Post-Master’s Certificate program open to any nurse with an MSN who wants to pursue certification as a family nurse practitioner. Referred to as a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS), this option consists of 28 course credits and 630 clinical hours. Students can expect to complete the part-time program in around two years, attending three on-campus sessions over six semesters.
There are a total of four online FNP paths available at Regis College, starting with an MSN program which accepts RNs holding either a BSN or an ADN and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Students entering the program with a BSN must fulfill 46 course credits to graduate, while BS to MSN students will need to complete 61 credits. Both tracks require 600 clinical practice hours; however, there are no mandatory on-campus training sessions. The seven-semester BSN to MSN program takes approximately 27 months to complete, and the BS to MSN path can be finished in around 36 months, or nine semesters. Along with their traditional MSN program, Regis offers an RN to MSN option for students who possess an ADN, but no bachelor’s degree. Earning an MSN through this pathway requires the completion of 61 course credits, as well as 600 clinical hours. RN to MSN students generally finish the program in around three years, with no visits to campus required.
Master’s-prepared RNs who want to pursue FNP certification can opt for Regis College’s online Post-Master’s Nurse Practitioner Certificate program. Any MSN will qualify students for this pathway, which consists of 37 credits and requires 600 clinical practice hours. With three start dates to choose from (January, May, and August), Post-Master’s students can earn their FNP certificate in as few as 20 months, and there are no campus residency requirements. The final online option at Regis for prospective FNPs is a BSN to DNP program in the specialty. Comprised of 76 credits, this degree path gives students the chance to earn their doctorate in roughly three years. As with the Post-Master’s Certificate program, there are admission periods for the DNP FNP track in the Fall, Spring, and Summer.
Simmons College, based in Boston, offers three tracks in their online FNP program, including an MSN pathway open to RNs who possess any bachelor’s degree, whether it be a BSN or one in a non-nursing field. The 48-credit program requires a total of 672 clinical practice hours, and only one campus visit during the entire course of study. Students can choose from both full- and part-time program options, as well as multiple starts dates throughout the year, earning their MSN in anywhere from 20 months (full-time) to 28 months (part-time). In addition to this BA/BS to MSN path, Simmons also has an online RN to MSN program designed for students with either an ADN, or a diploma or certificate from a hospital-based nursing program. This pathway is comprised of 68 credits, and requires both 836 clinical hours and one mandatory on-campus session. Full-time students can complete the program in as little as 30 months, while those enrolled part-time generally finish in around 36 months.
Finally, bachelor’s-trained RNs who would rather jump straight into a doctoral program, without earning their MSN first, can do so through Simmons College’s online Post-BS/BA to DNP option. Along with either a BSN or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, RNs must have at least two years of professional nursing experience in order to apply to this pathway. The DNP program entails 68 course credits, and a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours; however, there are no campus visits required. Three different start dates are available (January, May, and September), with the full-time, ten-term program taking roughly three years to complete. A part-time option is also offered, which can be completed in approximately three and half to four years of study.
The flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system, University of Massachusetts Amherst, or UMass Amherst, has two online FNP program options, both of which are DNP pathways. The first is a Post-Baccalaureate program for RNs who have earned a BSN, or an ADN plus a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing subject. Consisting of 80 course credits, the program is offered on a part-time basis, with admission in the Fall. Students can expect to earn their DNP in four to five years of study, completing a total of 1232 clinical practice hours. For RNs who have already earned an MSN, UMass Amherst offers an online Post-MS DNP Completion program. Based on a gap analysis of their previous graduate coursework, students in this FNP track may need to complete up to 80 credits to earn their doctorate, as well as 1232 clinical hours. With that in mind, the part-time program might take anywhere from four to five years to finish, based on the number of credits students are able to transfer from their MSN program. Neither DNP pathway at UMass Amherst requires students to travel to campus at any point during their studies.
Another school in the UMass system with an online FNP program is University of Massachusetts Boston. UMass Boston offers a Post-Master’s Certificate program in the specialty that is open to any MSN-trained nurse, whether they are pursuing their first or second APRN certification. Those already certified in a different clinical specialty can complete the program in just six months of full-time study, or one year of part-time study, taking a total of twelve course credits. RNs with an MSN pursuing their first APRN specialty will need to apply for the 21-credit option, which requires a commitment of one to two years, depending on if they enroll on a full- or part-time basis. While there are no campus visits required in either program path, students must complete 600 clinical practice hours in order to earn their FNP certificate. Current APRNs may be able to transfer 300 clinical hours from their MSN program towards this total.
Massachusetts FNP Licensing Requirements
In the state of Massachusetts, APRNs must obtain authorization from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing in order to practice. The Board, which is overseen by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), recognizes five categories of advanced practice nurses: Nurse Practitioner (CNP), Nurse Midwife (CNM), Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (PCNS), and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). To meet the requirements for Board authorization in any of the above specialties, students must first have a current and valid Massachusetts RN license. Next, RNs will need complete a graduate degree program in their clinical specialization. This could be an MSN, Post-Master’s Certificate, or DNP, as long as the program is accredited by the CCNE, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), or another accrediting organization deemed acceptable by the Board.
Once students have earned a master’s degree or higher in their specialty, they must acquire national APRN certification. In the case of family nurse practitioners, this means successfully passing an exam administered by either the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB). Both agencies require RNs to have completed at least 500 clinical practice hours in their graduate nursing program before they can sit for examination. Only after they have obtained national certification in their clinical category can students begin the state-level licensure application process.
Applications to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing must be filled out and submitted online. The forms, as well as detailed information about the application process, can be found on the website of Professional Credential Services, Inc. (PCS), a company the Board contracts to process all APRN and RN licensing requests in the state. In addition to providing details about their nursing education and current certification, applicants must answer several Good Moral Character (GMC) questions pertaining to disciplinary actions or convictions they may have been subject to in the past. With the application form, prospective FNPs will need to have verification of national certification and transcripts from their graduate program sent directly to the Board. A $150 fee and recent passport-size photo are also required.
|Universities in Massachusetts with Online FNP Programs|
|Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences||MSN (BSN Required)||Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner|
|Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences||Post-MSN Certificate New or Second Specialty (any MSN accepted)||Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies - Family Nurse Practitioner|
|Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences||RN to MSN (ADN required)||RN to MSN Bridge Program - Family Nurse Practitioner|
|Regis College||DNP (BSN Required)||Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice - Family Nurse Practitioner|
|Regis College||MSN (BSN or Non-Nursing Bachelors accepted)||Online Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner Program (BS to MSN, BSN to MSN)|
|Regis College||Post-MSN Certificate New or Second Specialty (any MSN accepted)||Online Post-Master's Certificate - Family Nurse Practitioner|
|Regis College||RN to MSN (ADN required)||Online Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner Program (RN to MSN)|
|Simmons College||DNP (BSN or Non-Nursing Bachelors accepted)||Online Post-BS/BA to DNP Family Nurse Practitioner program|
|Simmons College||MSN (BSN or Non-Nursing Bachelors accepted)||Nursing@Simmons online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) - Family Nurse Practitioner program (FNP)|
|Simmons College||RN to MSN (ADN or Diploma accepted)||Nursing@Simmons online RN to MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner program (FNP)|
|University of Massachusetts Amherst||DNP (BSN or Non-Nursing Bachelors accepted)||Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Post-Baccalaureate - Family Nurse Practitioner role concentration|
|University of Massachusetts Amherst||MSN to DNP with New or Second Specialty (any MSN accepted)||Online Post-MS DNP Completion - Family Nurse Practitioner role concentration|
|University of Massachusetts Boston||Post-MSN Certificate New or Second Specialty (any MSN accepted)||Online Nurse Practitioner Post Master's Certificate - Family Nurse Practitioner program|