How Much Does It Cost to Become a Nurse Practitioner?

A major factor in your nurse practitioner program decision should be cost.  Will a career change make sense financially?  Which schools offer a quality education for a reasonable tuition?  Using data collected from 200 nurse practitioner programs, I will outline about how much it will cost you to get a nurse practitioner degree (assuming you are pursuing an MSN degree, not a DNP).

Nurse Practitioner Program Costs

NP Programs are pricey.  Most nurse practitioner programs require students to complete 30-54 credits (an average of about 45) depending on program and specialty.  In-State tuition can cost anywhere from $225 to $665 per credit with an average of around $400 a credit for schools we surveyed.  In-State tuition totals about $18,000 to complete a nurse practitioner program.  Out-of-State tuition is even more expensive at $570 to $1300 per credit with an average of about $700 per credit.  Paying out-of-state tuition a nurse practitioner student can expect to spend about $31,500 on their education.  Online programs run somewhere in between costing $400-$800 per credit ultimately averaging about $22,500 for a nurse practitioner degree.  Private universities cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per credit.  If you attend one of these institutions you can expect to pay about $45,000 or more for your NP program.

Unanticipated Costs of Nurse Practitioner Programs

Tuition is not the only cost you must consider when planning for your NP education.  Living expenses must also come into play.  Nurse practitioner programs take 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 years to complete on a full-time basis or 3 to 4 years to complete part-time.  Will you work throughout your nurse practitioner program?  NP programs require completion of hundreds of clinical hours therefore it may not be possible to work and participate in a full-time program.  I would recommend contacting your school of interest to seek their advice on how many hours a week you should plan on working during your program as many students often over-commit.

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How to Offset Nurse Practitioner Program Costs

The good news?  If you are willing to get creative, you may be able to find a less expensive option for your nurse practitioner program than simply attending the university closest to where you live.  When looking for an NP program, perform a nationwide search.  Many universities offer online or distance programs that allow you to come to campus only a few times each year, and maybe not at all.  If these programs are significantly less expensive than the ones you are considering, it may be worth the extra time and travel to complete a distance program.  Online programs offer increased flexibility and may allow you to work additional hours so you can continue to pay for your own living expenses while completing your education.  For example, the University of Central Arkansas offers a four year part-time online program costing just $358 per credit.  The 2012 Guide to Nurse Practitioner Programs will help you determine which school best meets your needs.

Nurse Practitioner Program Financial Aid

Financial Aid for Nurse Practitioner Programs is widely available through loans and scholarships.  Often, employers will contribute to the cost of your nurse practitioner education.  If you are a nurse, find out if your employer will pay for part of your NP program.  See our blog post on scholarships for specific information on scholarships for nurse practitioner programs.

Yes, NP programs are expensive.  Taking out a large loan can be intimidating, but it will be worth it…as an NP you can expect to make over $90,000 a year after graduation!

2 thoughts on “How Much Does It Cost to Become a Nurse Practitioner?”

  1. I agree with Mark! Also, I just spent the entire afternoon looking at program costs. The most expensive programs are over $100,000. The majority of programs I found (and I dug around) are upwards of $70,000. This is not just an on-state or out of state issue, as some schools just offer a flat rate (as in schools in San Diego and San Francisco). My in-state tuition at several Washington state schools is $80,000, not including any addition expenses. I’m feeling discouraged, I must say.

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