Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs: Can You Really Enroll In a NP Program Without an RN Degree?

The typical path to becoming a nurse practitioner requires that students complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) followed by a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN).  For those of us who did not know we wanted to become NP’s and did not complete an undergraduate degree in nursing or who are making a career change to complete a MSN degree, technically we should have to return to school to first obtain our BSN.  But is there a faster way to become a nurse practitioner?

If you are like I was and are looking for a quick route to becoming an NP, a ‘bridge’ program or ‘accelerated’ program might be right for you.  So what exactly do these programs require?

Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs (Bachelor’s Degree in Non-Nursing Field to MSN Pathway)

Some schools may title these programs differently, however the concept is the same.  Many colleges and universities offer NP programs for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing that want to become nurse practitioners.  These schools offer an education path that allows you to first complete an RN degree, usually in three semesters, followed by your MSN, usually an additional three semesters.  Ultimately, this allows students with a degree in a field other than nursing to complete a nurse practitioner program in just two years full-time.  If classes are not offered in the summer or if you choose to complete this program on a part-time basis, it may take longer than two years.

Things to consider with bridge programs?  Often, the educational options with these programs are restricted.  Schools offering these programs may not allow for part-time study or may not allow courses to be completed online.

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Be sure to research your prospective program thoroughly.  Also, the universities that offer bridge programs are often more expensive.  This may be offset by the fact that you will graduate and start earning an income more quickly but you should do some quick calculations to make sure the additional cost over other programs in your area will be worth it.  Finally, bridge programs have required prerequisite courses that must be completed before enrolling.  Make sure you have a plan for completing required prerequisite coursework.

Nurse Practitioner Accelerated Programs (RN to MSN Pathway)

Also referred to by a wide range of titles, accelerated nurse practitioner education pathways allow nurses with an RN degree or a diploma in nursing but not a BSN to enroll in a nurse practitioner program.  Prerequisite college credits and courses are usually required so make sure to do adequate research on your program of interest so you can determine if you are eligible or need to complete more coursework before applying.  Compared to programs for NP students without any prior nursing education mentioned above, RN to MSN programs tend to be more flexible.  They are offered by a larger number of schools and are often able to be completed online.

Looking for an accelerated program in your area?  Let me know and I will work to find the best option for you!

221 thoughts on “Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs: Can You Really Enroll In a NP Program Without an RN Degree?”

  1. Hi, I just came across this blog and I am just starting the prereqs for an accelorated BSN. However, my ultimate goal is to be an NP. I live in a very small town with the closest school being 45min away. Right now I am taking my prereqs online with MGH. Do you have any suggestions for accelorated online programs?

  2. Hi Alex,

    There are a lot of options for how you can go about getting your NP degree.  If you want to complete a program similar to the one I completed where you receive a NP degree in 2-3 years without any prior nursing education, read this post.  It will give you a list of programs.  This type of accelerated program however is not typically offered online.

    If you want to first get your BSN then attend a NP program, you have a lot of online options which will likely take about 1 1/2 to 2 years to complete.  What specailty do you plan to choose?  This will make a difference in which online programs are an option for you.

  3. Hi, I am trying to get into nursing and will need to take all of the prerequisite courses. I live in CA, so I am fortunate enough to have a variety of community colleges and a university that offer nursing programs nearby. I have a BA in Political Science and a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree already. I am debating between getting an RN from a community college and going on for the NP afterward OR just jumping into the MSN for non-nurses program (5 semesters). The accelerated MSN deal would cost A LOT more, but it would get me in and out much faster. However, I have heard that coming into a care setting with no experience as a nurse is not favorable. I have lived abroad and hope to work internationally again, which makes Family Practice seem like a good option. I am also interested in Women’s Health, Infectious Disease, or Acute Care as well. WOW, lots of uncertainties here, but do you have any advice or see any glaring problems? Thanks!

  4. Hi Emilie,

    Personally, I did not have any experience working as an RN before becoming a NP.  The learning curve in my first job was certainly high, but manageable.  I think the transition from graduating to working as a nurse practitioner would also have been a bit stressful even if I had RN experience but likely less so.

    One thing you should certainly consider is that nursing organizations are pushing to require the DNP for nurse practitioners rather than the MSN by 2015.  If you become an RN and work for a year before going back to school, you may have to get a DNP which will take longer and be more expensive than the MSN degree.  

    It sounds like you have a wide variety of interests and could see your career going in a lot of different directions.  The Family specialty is perfect for this.  You can still practice in most of the same environments as a Women’s Health or Acute Care NP with an FNP degree.  The FNP will allow you to treat both children and adults which will be very helpful should you chose to practice internationally.  I wrote last week about international opportunities with the Department of State and they hire FNP’s.

    I hope this helps!

  5. Hi Erin,

    So glad to have stumbled upon your blog! I am also contemplating a career change to Nurse Practitioner and am currently researching the best way (cheapest/quality education/quickest) to go about this. I am currently employed full-time in Honolulu, HI in research. I’m glad that UH Manoa has a NP Bridge program as I am not sure I am up for moving anytime soon. What I am wondering is the most affordable way to go about becoming an NP in Hawaii. I see you posted the cost of UH Manoa’s Bridge program, but am wondering if it would be more cost effective to continue working full-time while taking online or evening classes to obtain my BSN/RN and then apply for entrance into an NP program? Knowing that the job market in Honolulu is extremely tight for RN’s and that during the first year of UH Manoa’s bridge program you cannot work, I am afraid of leaving a decent job that I like for the program and then not being able to find a job as an RN after the first year of the bridge program. So just wondering what the cost and length of obtaining a BSN (online or locally) would be approximately while working full time. I’m also trying to figure out how the 2015 doctoral requirement also comes into play. I am definitely up for obtaining my doctoral degree, just trying to figure out the best timeline for me. I am interested in going the FNP or possibly Psychiatric NP route. Any advice or info you have is very welcome! Apologies if this question is too specific!


    Hi Jill,

    Thanks for your question!  I am afraid I don’t have specific information regarding BSN programs online and locally in Hawaii.  There are just too many BSN programs to keep track of!  I can say however, that bridge programs such as the one offered at UH Manoa are typically quite a bit more expensive than obtaining a BSN then an MSN online or from a local school.  Here are a few things you should consider in deciding the most efficient but cost effective way to become a nurse practitioner:

    1. The DNP requirement is projected to go into effect in 2015.  Although this has not been finalized, it is safest to assume this will happen.  So, if you do not start your nurse practitioner by 2015 you will likely have to spend much longer in your NP program.  In the case of UH Manoa, it will take you 2 years longer to complete your degree and cost you an extra $21,000 (estimate).  It may be worth taking the faster, bridge program route to save $20,000 and start working as a nurse practitioner 2 years sooner.

    2. You must consider your current job and salary as well as your potential income.  If you complete your degree by first getting a BSN while still working then completing your nurse practitioner program part-time while you continue to work you can still pay your living expenses and won’t have to take out as may loans.  However, if you complete your nurse practitioner program at a faster pace, you can start working as a NP much sooner.  The average NP salary is about $90,000.  If, for example, you currently make $40,000 a year and you take the slower route to becoming a nurse practitioner which could take 2 or 3 years longer, you would have make $1000,000 to $150,000 in additional income during this time by starting your NP career sooner.  This offsets the cost of the bridge program.

    3. As far as not finding a job after the RN year of your bridge program, this is a legitimate concern. I have recently read that the job market is tight for new RN’s all over the country.  If you couldn’t find an RN position you could work in another non-nursing job.  Although this wouldn’t give you medical experience it would pay the bills!

    4. You have to decide how important it is for you personally not to have debt (student loans).  Some people would prefer to pay more for their education, have a large student loan but finish their nurse practitioner program sooner.  Others are more debt adverse and prefer the slower but financially conservative route.  Neither is the correct choice, it is simply personal preference.  You need to think about how much stress debt will cause you and decide which you prefer.

    I hope this helps, let me know if you have any further questions!

    Do any readers know anything about BSN programs in Hawaii to help Jill out?


  7. I am definitely interested in the diploma RN to MSN program. I am in Nashville, TN – where can I find the nearest program to me so that I can determine if I need any prerequisites before applying?

  8. I am a registered nurse thru ADN program and have worked for a few years as such. I am contemplating a bridge program from adn to fnp and need online program. I am in Colorado. I have quite a few credits and only a few away from a bachelors in liberal arts. Which way would be quickest to get to FNP certification…from liberal arts degree to FNP or ADN to FNP? I don’t want to be in school forever nor spend my life paying off loans. I will also be working. Thanks

  9. Hi Kathie,

    Your best best is probably an ADN to FNP program.  This way you can start applying to schools now rather than spending time and money completing your bachelor’s.  Make sure you apply soon as in 2015 it is likely you will need a doctorate rather than a master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner.  If you enter an NP program before 2015 you can avoid this requirement.  

    There actually some good options in Colorado.  I would recommend looking into these schools:

    1. Aspen University

    2. American Sentinel University

    Both are online and located in Colorado.

  10. I have an Assoc. of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training, my LPN and an ADN. I’m from Michigan and would like to know what would be the best program for me in regards to pursuing my NP degree. I’ve been looking online and would like to do an RN to MSN option without having to pursue a 2nd bachelor’s degree, thanks

  11. Hi Teresa,

    There are some great options in your area of the country for RN-MSN programs.  In Michigan, your best bets are:

    1. Ferris State University

    2. Grand Valley State University

    3. Saginaw State University

    You could also complete an online program out of state.  Online programs in your area of the country include:

    1. Otterbein College (Ohio)

    2. Ball State University (Indiana)

    3. Chamberlin College of Nursing (Illinois)

  12. Hi Erin,

    Do you know if there is an organization that has a list of the NP programs for those without a nursing degree like the one you attended. I’m a former hospital administrator aqnd I live in the Bay Area and I’m considering schools here (I think UCSF is one; but, very competitive) and I really want to explore schools around Miami.

    Thank you for this great blog I found.


  13. p.s., do you know if you start the NP program before 2015 (e.g., 2014) then the NP would be grandfathered in without the DNP? Or do you need to finish the NP by 2015? thanks again!!

  14. Hi Marc,

    I have a list of NP programs for students with bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.  Check it out here.  Let me know if you would like me to e-mail you a pdf copy as well.  Also, there are many programs for students with an RN but not a BSN degree.  You can find a list of these schools here.  Getting your RN would give you a greater number of schools to choose from for your NP degree.

    If you start your nurse practitioner program before 2015, then you will avoid the DNP requirement.  No need to finish by 2015.  Some schools are beginning to phase out their MSN programs so the sooner you can start the better. 

  15. Hi I am an RN in CA I have a BA in another field and am looking for
    Online options for NP
    I would like them to be affordable.

  16. Check out California State University San Marcos, Dominican University of California, Mount St. Mary’s College, Point Loma Nazarene University and Western University of Health Sciences.

  17. Lauren Francis


    I am currently enrolled in undergrad in Michigan and will be graduating in 2 years with a biomedical science and chemistry minor. I think I may want to be a nurse practitioner but I was wondering the most practical way to go around it?

    Any help would be awesome! i appreciate it!


  18. Hi Lauren,

    The quickest, most efficient way for you to become an NP would be to complete an accelerated program for students that have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.  This would take you about 2-3 years to complete depending on the program.  Check out this post for a list of programs.

    Alternatively, you could get your RN at a local college then apply for an on-campus or online RN-MSN program.  This would take longer to complete but would probably cost less.  

  19. Hi Erin, I just came across your website, it’s such a great resource for NPs. I’m currently in my second year of my ADN program, and I am going to apply to Master’s programs to be an FNP to start right after I become an RN in 2014. I am only interested in online programs since I am not conveniently located to any universities. I also have a BS, so I am looking at schools that offer a bridge program. So far the only school I have found that is local enough for me to travel to campus when necessary is CSU Dominguez Hills. (I see that Western University is an option, but considering it is roughly double the cost of CSUDH, I’m not sure if I want to even apply.) Do you have any advice for other schools that would be a good fit? Also, should I also consider schools offering an ADN–>MSN, if they take all my credits from my BS degree? Is this route more expensive or time consuming? I definitely don’t want to be applying to only one school, and I want to be sure all of my options are considered. Thanks so much for your help!

  20. Hi Kim,

    With the degrees you will have after your RN program in 2014, you have 2 options:

    1. Attend an MEPN (Masters Entry Program in Nursing also known as accelerated or bridge program).  These programs are for students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.

    2. Attend an ADN-MSN program for students with an RN degree.

    Option number 1 is probably not the best for you.  The first year of these programs is essentially an RN program which you will already have.  You will be wasting your time.  Typically, these programs are also more expensive.  

    An ADN-MSN program will be better tailored to your needs.  You won’t have to waste time and money repeating courses you have already taken.  You may be able to apply some of your BS credits to this program, it will depend on the individual program and their policies.

    Overall, an ADN-MSN program will save you time and money so I think this route is your best bet.

    Good luck!  Let me know if you have further questions. 

  21. Hi Erin,
    All of your comments and responses to everybody have been extremely helpful. O thank you for that. I am a little stressed out right now, and would love your advise. I am currently working as my dream job, as an RNFA (registered nurse first assistant) so I assist the surgeon in surgery. There has been talk that RNFA’s will have to go back for an NP for reimbursement issues etc. I have only worked in the operating room. 1) will that be a problem for me if I go for my NP?
    2) I do not have a bachelors in anything. I would like to do the Rn-NP bridge but am terrified I will not succeed due to no upper divion classes, writing classes, online class experience or critical care. Bottom line, I am scared. Do you think I should do a BSN first, then an NP program? Or do you think I will be ok, given my background? I really appreciate this. Thank you!!

  22. Hi Danielle,

    I’m happy to help!

    1. Having only worked in surgery will not be a problem for you at all.  I did not have any medical experience whatsoever when I went back for my NP.  You may have a little more on the job learning than other students when you graduate if you choose not to work in surgery but you should be fine.

    2. Since I don’t know you, it’s hard for me to know if upper division writing courses etc. will be difficult for you so I can’t tell you exactly what you should do.  But, I would use your past educational experiences as a guide.  If you have struggled with school in the past, then maybe a more gradual approach to getting your NP would be best.  If you are generally a strong student, then tackling an RN-MSN program will be a good option for you.

    Let me know if you have any further questions!


  23. I am looking for an accelerated MSN program located anywhere, so long as it is considerate GRADUATE. I no longer am eligible for federal financial aid since I already have a bachelors degree (in another field) and a BSN is still considered undegrad. However, a NP program is a grad degree. Wanted to know if I do a bridge program, where I get my RN and then continue to a NP, and it all be considered a grad degree so I qualify for more federal aid. I hope this wasn’t too confusing to understand. (Btw I am located in Texas, though I am open to all programs).

    Thanks so much!

  24. Hi Erin,
    I am currently a RN in NJ. I am looking for an ADN to MSN/APN online bridge program. I do not hold a BS in another field. I’m finding it rather difficult to locate a bridge program for Advance Practice Nurses. It seems as if most programs are geared toward education or informatics. I’d appreciate any suggestions you could share.
    Karen S

  25. Hi Karen,

    This is a common problem.  It looks like Fairleigh Dickinson University in NJ has an RN-BSN-MSN program that would allow you to become a nurse practitioner.  Their website is a bit unclear so make sure to contact the school.  Monmouth University in NJ also has an RN-MSN program with a nurse practitioner focus. 

    I would also consider online programs in other states.  For example, Frontier University offers an online RN-MSN program for students without any bachelor’s degree leading to a family nurse practitioner degree.  When looking at programs in other states, make sure to ask the school if you can complete your clinical hours in NJ- some schools only allow clinical hours to be completed in certain states. 

    Another option you have is to complete an RN-BSN program then apply to MSN programs.  While this might not be the quickest path to becoming an NP, it will give you a lot more options when it comes to finding a program.

    Hope this helps!

  26. Hello!

    I am graduating in December with a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and would like to find a bridge program for NP. I am not an RN and am currently living in Virginia, however am open to relocating for school. Does anyone have any suggestions about a bridge program on the east coast, preferable in Virginia or Maryland?


  27. Hi Devin,

    I am not aware of any programs for students without a nursing degree in Virginia or Maryland.  But, check out Boston College and MGH INstitute of Health Professions.  University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University are also good picks. 

  28. Hi Erin!

    Wow, I have been reading all of your responses and I honestly can’t believe that your site is in existence. Thank you so much for all of your insight and information, this is exactly what I have been looking for! I am actually in the process of applying to bridge/accelerated programs right now, and I feel quite overwhelmed. I just graduated in May from Ohio State with a BA in Spanish and international studies, but I was pre-med [like you 🙂 ] for 5 years because I thought I wanted to be a physician. Through my undergrad experience in conjunction with working as a PCA at the hospital, I realized for many reasons that I do not want to go to medical school or be a physician. (it took me a long time to be able to admit that to myself!)

    Basically I really like the nursing approach, and I want to focus my career on preventative healthcare, holistic wellness, and patient education. However, I REALLY don’t know which program is the best fit. I also am overwhelmed with which specialty to choose. I have a lot of interests and I do realize that FNP is the most broad, but I also like Psychiatric/mental health focuses. Additionally, I am kind of confused as to what the difference is between FNP and Adult NP – is one better? I think I want to do something with women’s care, but I don’t want to be primarily in Nurse Midwifery or Women’s Health. Being bilingual, and having a huge desire to travel or live abroad, I would LOVE to be able to find a way to work in an international setting for at least a while. I saw your post on your CME vacation! Is that actually an option?? Is that common or are you just really blessed with your employer?

    Also, I can’t seem to find where you actually attended your accelerated program. I see you’re in TN, but did you attend Vanderbilt? In any case, how did you decide which program you wanted to attend? Basically, I have lived in Ohio my whole life until recently when I left everything and moved to beautiful Colorado. This means that I am willing to move wherever, I just want to attend the best school that I can, in the most cost-effective way (and maybe the least amount of time? if I dare to say). Which by the way, do you have any advice on funding for accelerated programs? Or do you know anything about Advance Practice Nurse loan repayment programs?

    I apologize for the really long comment, but I would just love any advice or pointers that you would have. Thank you so much for your time!

  29. Hi Alysha,

    Im excited to hear that you want to become an NP!  

    Given your variety of interests, it sounds like the FNP is the best option for you.  Really, the only difference between the Adult NP and the FNP is that you can see kids as an FNP.  Even if you don’t want to work exclusively with children, you limit yourself a bit by not being able to see kids with the Adult NP.  As an FNP, you will probably do some psych and women’s health in your practice as well.  Also, it would be easy for you to branch out to work exclusively in these settings with the FNP.

    As far as working internationally, check out the post on being a Foreign Service Health Practitioner for the Department of State.

    Regarding bridge programs, I did attend Vanderbilt.  With a non-nursing major, a similar program would be the quickest way for you to become an NP but probably not the cheapest.  If you want to complete a similar program in Ohio, The Ohio State University offers a similar option.

    I hope this helps, let me know if you have any further questions!

  30. Hi Erin,
    I just came across your website; I hope you are still active because it’s such a great resource and I truly would like your advice. I’m currently in my second year of my ADN program in the state of Maryland, and I am going to apply to Master’s programs to be an FNP to start right after I become an RN in December 2014. I am mainly interested in online programs that are considered GRADUATE, because I already earned a BS in Health Care Administration and am no longer eligible for federal financial aid.

    So far the closest online program for Psychiatric NP is Drexel University in Pennsylvania. Do you have any advice for other schools that would be a good fit? I definitely don’t want to be applying to only one school, and I want to be sure all of my options are considered.
    Thanks so much for your help in advance!!!!


  31. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks for reading!  If you want an ADN-MSN program with a Psychiatric NP specialty, I think you have found the only one!  I did some research today and was not able to find any other ADN-MSN programs with a psychiatric specialty, most have only Family Nurse Practitioner options.

    If you don’t want to apply to only one program, you could consider getting your FNP then specializing in psych later.

    Hope this helps!

  32. just want to know if anyone has advice in how I can best pursue an NP with an existing MSN in nursing education?

  33. Hi Karrin,

    If you already have an MSN it should be pretty easy.  You can enroll in a “post-master’s” program for students who already have an MSN degree but want to specialize in another nursing field including becoming a nurse practitioner.  For example, Vanderbilt University offers these types of programs.  

  34. Hi, I have a BS in Behavioral Science/Criminology and ADN. I have years of critical care/flight experience as a paramedic and ICU experience as RN, living in NC. I currently work in nursing administration/supervision and am trying to find the fastest, most affordable program for FNP or Acute Care NP. I’m not certain yet about FNP vs AGAC-NP, but am thinking I’d ultimately enjoy working in an underserved/rural area, possibly an urgent care, maybe primary care…
    I live in NC. I know its a lot of info, but any suggestions would be appreciated!


    Hi Jason,

    An online program is usually the easiest and most affordable way to become an NP if you already have an ADN.  Check out these online RN-MSN programs.  Most of these have an FNP focus which would be great if you want to work in urgent care and/or a rural area.

  36. I would really like to find the quickest way to become a NP and heard that there may be a quick path for me. I have a bachelors degree in Business Administration and an associates in nursing. I have worked as a RN in ED,trauma and was a charge nurse for a traumatic brain injury facility. I would like to find a school online or even with classroom here in the Salt Lake City area that would work with me to get my NP as quickly as possible.


  37. Hi:
    I have read your blog regarding the bridging to NP. I live in NYC, can you suggest list of schools that offer the NP training through bridging? I will love to take all the pre-requisite courses that I’m require to.

  38. Hello,
    Although I still have high school to get through, if the spot is open I could possibly graduate from high school as a CNA/PCT, I plan to attend college, but I still am unsure how long that will last as I have been taking college classes, and its possible to graduate with two years of college. That being siad, the university that is near offers a two year PA course, but I really want to attend the NP program if accepted. But I realize that we need an RN degree, on that subject it has come into my understanding that NPs have to have a doctorate degree, which makes me wonder if I should go the whoe way and go for doctor. I would like advice. Please?

  39. Hi Ariel,

    While is has been recommended that a doctorate degree be required for NPs by 2015, this won’t be the case. The 2015 deadline is much too soon for this to happen. It is still possible that the DNP could become a requirement eventually but not for a number of years.

    You are in a bit of a tough spot since you are planning so far ahead for your education. The best advice I can give you is to work hard in high school and re-evaluate once you are closer to graduation. Focus on getting good grades and a strong science background as this will be important for whichever route you choose. You will be able to get a better idea of where the DNP requirement is at that point and how it will affect you once you are a bit further in your educational path. 

  40. I’m a certified WHNP by NCC and looking for a bridge to MSN do you know which school has this program. I have started 4 difficult course s but the school stop this program. I’ve been looking for a while now.
    Thank you.

  41. Hi Jackie,

    I need a little more information to help you. To clarify, you are already a nurse practitioner? If so, what degree(s) do you have?

  42. What are your recommendations on FNP schools that don’t require experience in CA and/or LA County area specifically?

  43. Hi Erin!

    I love your blog and really helps me to decide for my future plans and going further education. I hope you are still active in your blog. I am a foreign licensed RN and currently living in California. I finished a Bachelor’s Degree major in Nursing in the Philippines. I took NCLEX-RN before but I didn’t make it. I have reapplied and waiting for my eligibility again and reviewing for the said exam. I am planning to pursuit FNP.

    Here are my questions:
    1. Do I have to be a licensed RN here in the U.S.A before I can get into MSN?
    2. Do I have to be a licensed RN to proceed to FNP?
    3. Are there any schools for this in California (Orange County is preferred but not required).
    4. Is there a good path for me to go through to get my FNP or MSN without NCLEX-RN?
    5. If you are in my shoes, what will be your decision to proceed to FNP?

    Thank you very much Erin for your time and responses. Any help is really appreciated.



  44. Hi Jea,

    Thanks for reading! Here are the answers to your questions:

    1. Yes, you need to be licensed as an RN to get into a MSN program

    2. Yes, you need to be a licensed RN to become a FNP

    3. There are plenty of schools in California that offer a FNP degree. Check out our list of California’s Top Nurse Practitioner Programs

    4. No, you must have your RN degree to proceed to a more advanced nursing degree. 

    If I were you, I would focus on passing the NCLEX. Then, you can apply to nurse practitioner programs. 

    Good luck!

  45. Any online programs in Pennsylvania for RN to FNP? I have 31 years of nursing experience including ICU, CCU, ER and Flight Nursing but I am a diploma trained RN. I would love to proceed but am unaware of any programs that consider work experience as relevant. Thanks for your help!

  46. I have a MSW and have worked in the mental health field for 21 years. The psychiatrist I work with is trying to encourage me to find a non nursing Psych NP program. I have not been in school forever so I’m a little nervous about it but also curious and interested m. I live in the southeastern ohio area. I’m just wondering what the best route to take would be at this point. We have a shortage of prescribers but it seems overwhelming to me considering i have no nursing background. What advice do you have for me?

  47. Hi Kristin,

    Based on your post, I would recommend thinking hard about what you really want for your own career. It sounds like the psychiatrist you work with thinks you could handle becoming an NP, but is this what you want to do? I would recommend shadowing a few psych NPs in your area to get a better idea of what the day to day life of a nurse practitioner working in this specialty looks like.

    Going back to school is expensive, time consuming, and takes a lot of effort but it can pay off in the end. As far as your lack of nursing background, don’t worry. That is why you go to school. You will learn what you need to know in your NP program. If you decide you want to become a psych NP and it’s worth the effort, go for it!

  48. Thanks so much. That’s a good idea I didn’t think of. Are there any schools you would recommend? Do you know of any online programs? Thanks!!

  49. Hi – I have recently realized that I would like to go back to school to become a Nurse – eventually a Nurse Practitioner. I am trying to figure out what the best route is for me to do this, and what pre-requisites I might need to complete before I can even apply to a program… and where to apply (I live in NJ – near NYC – but am open to and actually kind of excited about moving – but somewhere still near the ocean, so either west or east coast). I have a Bachelors in Economics, but 12+ years experience in the Healthcare industry. Can you help explain what my options are? Thanks so much!

  50. Hi Becky,

    You have a few options as follows:

    1. Enroll in a MEPN (also known as accelerated or bridge) nurse practitioner program. This will get you an RN and MSN degree within the same program, usually taking 2-3 years total to become a nurse practitioner. The drawback with this route is that these programs are usually expensive. Here is a list of these types of programs. 

    2. Enroll in an RN program, then an RN-MSN program to become an NP. The drawback here is that there are a limited number of RN-MSN programs out there that lead to a nurse practitioner degree.

    3. Get a BSN then your MSN degree. There are BSN programs for students who already have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. And, with this route there will me more options for where to complete the nurse practitioner portion of your education. The drawback with this option is that it takes more time. 

  51. Im a Medical Assistant. Ive worked for 11 years now. I want to go back to school. Not sure if NP or PA is best for me. Which would be the fastest for me?

  52. Hi Nikkie,

    PA programs are usually about two years. You could also consider an accelerated NP program which takes about 2 to 3 years depending on the program. See No. 1 in the above comment for info. about these programs. Since you do have medical experience, PA will likely be the fastest route for you.

    Most PA and NP programs require a bachelors degree and certain prerequisite courses so I would start there! 

  53. I just decide I wanted to become a NP. i’m planning on finishing my B.A in political science im a senior in college now. I just don’t know should I go back and get my B.S in nursing or is there a bridge program near me. I live in long island, I can travel to NYC easily.

  54. Hi Melissa,

    Here is a list of bridge programs that I am aware of. If you don’t think these options would work for you, you could get your RN then attend an RN-MSN program, or get your BSN and enroll in a traditional MSN program.

    The drawback of bridge programs is that they are more expensive than first getting nursing degree. The advantage, of course, is that they are much shorter. The best thing for you do do is think about your priorities. Would you rather relocate and pay more for your education to become an NP more quickly? Or, is saving money and remaining in NY most important? 

    Let me know if you have any further questions/ concerns. 


  55. Hi,

    I currently have a MSN-nursing education degree. I would like to know how I can obtain
    my DNP in the less amount of time. I have been in school off/on since 1990. I’m ready to finalize my education.

  56. Hi Shon,

    DNP programs are all pretty similar in the amount of time they take. The thing that will make your education the quickest is to attend a program full-time rather than part-time. If you complete a program online you may be able to go to school full-time and work as well as online programs give added flexibility. 

  57. Hi Erin,

    Love this blog! I have been trying to figure out for years the best program to attend. I am a ADN RN and would like to find the least expensive RN to FNP online. I am located in the Chicago land area. I have been working for 17 years in nursing. I am 52 and debating if the time and expense is worth it or not. Also, I am a veteran and I have seen that some schools give discounts because of it. I have hesitated for years because most of my interest has been in holistic and integrative medicine and I couldn’t find a curriculum surrounding those subjects but it seems the FNP is starting to include them. Thank you for your response.

  58. Hi,
    I just graduated with a Bachelor degree in History but I want to be a NP. I’m deciding on going to either California or Utah for school, do you know of any good schools?! Right now I am taking classes to be a certified massage therapist but my concern is that will me going to school to be a NP be worth my time instead of a massage therapist? Because they are more accredited and respected, I do want to learn of both but I also don’t want to be in school forever. I want to start as soon as possible. Thank you for your help!
    Take care,

  59. Hi Sephra,

    Since you are not already a nurse (the first step to becoming a NP), you have a few options as to how to proceed. 

    1. The fastest (but most expensive) way for you to become an NP is to attend an accelerated program that awards both an RN and MSN degree. There are very few schools that offer this path but they are perfect for you since they are designed for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. In California, California State University offers these programs. 
    2. If you can’t find an accelerated program to fit your needs, the next option is to get your RN degree. You can do this at a local college and it will be much less expensive than an accelerated NP program. Then, you can enroll in in RN-MSN program online or in person. If you plan to go this route, I would make sure there is a school near you offering an RN-MSN program if you want to attend an on-campus program. Also, when you research RN-MSN programs make sure you look for programs offering a nurse practitioner focus. Many of them confer only nurse educator or clinical nurse leader degrees. 
    3. The final option is to get your BSN, then attend a traditional MSN program either online or on campus. This is the slowest way to become an NP for you, but by attending a traditional MSN program you will have more choices when it comes to choosing a school. They do have BSN programs for students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. I’m not sure which schools offer these. 
  60. Hi Erin,
    I’m in Alaska, have my ADN and a BSN not in nursing. I would like to do an online ADN to FNP/MSN. Trying to keep the cost down and be able to start in Jan. The DNP doesn’t seem to be “taking affect” in 2015 as most schools still have MSN programs, whats the status???? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  61. Hello! This site is awesome. I am seeking advice. This is my situation:

    I’ve completed two years of nursing prereqs. I’m waiting for an Oct. admissions decision for an ADN program beginning this Jan. I have the option to exit with an ADN after two years (2016), or, add two semesters and have a BSN after three years (2017). However, my ultimate goal is to be a FNP, and directly enter a FNP program that doesn’t require work experience if possible.

    What pathway would you suggest for me to go on to become a FNP in this situation?

    Some things to add: This school I have applied for is in Tennessee, but my residence is in Washington state. But I am willing to relocate depending on where and CoA. Thank you in advance!

  62. Hi Praise,

    You have 2 options.

    1. Finish your ADN, then attend an ADN-MSN program. The benefot of this route is that it will require less time. The drawback is that there are far fewer schools offering ADN-MSN programs so you are more restricted as to where to attend your NP program. 

    2. Get your BSN, then attend an MSN program. This gives you many more options when it comes to where to get your FNP degree. You will likely be able to find a school that is less expensive and one that is located in your area or online. The drawback of this route is that it will probably set you back about a year. 

    If your program allows, I would wait until you get closer to the point where you have to choose and make your decision. In 2 years, healthcare and your personal life can change significantly. If you can wait to make the decision, you will have a better grasp of what your situation will look like at that point. 

  63. Erin, thank you for the advice. I will wait to make a better decision at that point. I have a few more questions, if I may:

    1. Do you have recommendations of ADN-MSN programs that don’t require work experience? I only know of Vanderbilt and University of South Alabama, but would like to know more.

    2. I have the same question for BSN-MSN programs.

    3. I am considering international work (hopefully in my native country, Indonesia) in the future, so I have been looking into public/international health, particularly MSN/MPH degrees. Any advice for a student who is considering this idea/route?

  64. Here are my thoughts:

    1. Here is a list of RN-MSN programs. Some do not require nursing experience. 

    2. As for BSN-MSN programs, there are too many to count! I would start your search based on yuor schools of interest, then look from there. Many FNP programs do not require nursing experience for students with a BSN. 

    3. Emory, John’s Hopkins, the University of Texas and Thomas Jefferson University have good programs. Just be careful here, many of them are expensive! One option is to get your MSN then work as a nurse practitioner while you work on your public health degree next. You may also find that opportunities you become interested in will accept you with just an NP degree rather than a dual degree.

  65. I am a 1996 graduate of an ADN program in GA which had no chemistry requirement. I am interested in a ADN-FNP program online that does not make me have all of the basic undergrad core requirments for a bachelor’s degree.


  66. I am a RD with a master’s degree and I would like to become a NP. Is there any options for me? Any programs that I can do online or with a flexible schedule? (I am a mom of two)Thanks a lot!

  67. I am a recent RN graduate in Los Angeles and plan to continue onto NP school. Since I have no experience as a RN, how was your experience in gaining clinical hours thru an online NP program? We are responsible in attaining our own clinical hours per semester. Do you have any suggestions as to where to go? Meaning any particular facilites types? Are there any particular schools you would recommend online for FNP? How receptive were potential employers when it came to lack of experience? I am willing to relocate any suggestions as to where?
    Greatly appreciate your help.
    Thank you!

  68. I currently have an associates degree and want to become a np as quick as possible, but make sure I get a great education. What path would you reviled I take? I live in Utah right now, but am fine with moving for school if needed. Also I male. Do u think that will help or hinder me?

  69. Hi Wes,

    You have 3 options when if comes to getting your NP degree. The fastest route tends to be the most expensive. I recently wrote a blog post about these 3 options, How to Become a Nurse Practitioner Without Nursing Experience. Check out the post for details.

    As far as being a male, I think this is an advantage. Employers typically look to balance out numbers. Since most NPs are females, this will work to your advantage.

  70. Hi Susan,

    I do not have any personal experience gaining clinical hours with an online program. In hearing from readers, it can be difficult if your program doesn’t offer any assistance. If you know anyone who has graduated from the NP program you are considering, ask if they can give any insight. Also, if you have personal connections who work in the medical field this will help. Here is the link to a blog post I wrote on how to find a clinical preceptor.

    Finding a job as a new graduate can be easy or difficult, depending on where you live. If you are willing to relocate and are flexible as to where you work, you will have a much easier time. Texas, for example, has a great job market right now. 

    As far ar RN-MSN programs for FNP students, here is a list.

    Let me know if you have any further questions!


  71. I have my ADN and currently enrolled in an online RN to BSN program, would like to change to RN – FNP. Know of any online programs or programs in Ontario, CA.

  72. Hi, I’m currently a junior in college and am going to graduate with a non-nursing Bachelor’s Degree in May 2015. I’d like to become an NP, without having to go through the traditional route. What accelerated NP programs do you recommend?

  73. I am currently an ADN student and ultimately plan to continue my education earning a NNP. I would be licensed in New York and would like to know what my options are as far as online education. I understand clinicals would be in my community and would like the rest online. Please let me know what my best options are. Thank you.

  74. Hi Heather, 

    It can be difficult to find an NNP program online, especially if you are looking for an RN-MSN program rather than a BSN-MSN program. It looks like the University of Rochester could be a good option as they offer the NNP specialty and have many entry points to the program. The University of Pennsylvania may also work as well. If you can’t find something that will fit your needs you may also consider getting your BSN then applying to NNP programs. This will give you more options for schools to attend. 

  75. Dear Erin,

    I really enjoy your Blog and would love any advice you’d have to offer on my situation:

    I’m a third year student at the Ohio State University studying Biochemistry. I was pre-med however got lost in the major and the desire to pursue Medical School. I’ve shadowed and volunteered in the hospital my whole life and am positive Nurse Practitioner is the route for me after a lot of soul-searching. However . . . I am very unprepared. I hold a high GPA with a lot of leadership and research, however have completed none of the pre-requisite classes for nursing programs. Would it be wise to go ahead and take those classes my next semester versus finishing up my major classes, get registered this summer and complete hours and study for the GRE and apply for schools at the end of the summer? Or are you aware of a better solution for my situation?

    I’d love any insight you’d have to offer, thank you so much!


  76. I have an associates rn from excelsior and lots of credits from community college I have been an ICUs nurse for over 20 years and want the shortest cheapest route to np so I can work in er or ICUs. Can you help advise I live in San Antonio texas

  77. Hi Erin

    I just came across your posts. This is such a helpful blog. Thank you for helping us all out

    I am a physician from Kenya. My degree is MBBS (Bachelor of medicine and Bachelor of Surgery). I would like to pursue Nurse practitioner career in future in USA, without going thru RN course. How can I find out if i am eligible for such accelerated/bridge courses? And please tell me some programs preferably in NJ,NY which can offer such course

    Thanks a lot


  78. Hi Jas,

    The University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, and Boston College could be good options for you as they are all located on the East Coast. 

    To find out if you are eligible, you would need to contact these schools directly to make sure the courses you have taken as part of your bachelor’s degree will be accepted. If they are not, you may need to take some additional courses before you apply. You may also need to take the GRE and/or the TOEFL exam since you will be enrolling from out of the country. 

    Hope this helps!

  79. I have a bs degree in respiratory therapy. I bridged to nursing after 5 years of practicing respiratory therapy. I recieved an associates degree in nursing and currently have been working as an RN for over a year. I want to continue to FNP school but I dont have a bachlors in nursing. Would I be eligable for and online FNP program with a bs degree in respiratory therapy even though I am an RN. And if so what schools.


  80. Hello Erin!
    I have a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and I want to pursue nursing. I have been out of school and working at a surgeon’s office for two years now so I will go back to freshen up on my science pre-requisites also retaking them to have a more competitive application with higher GPA. I am so confused as far as which program is best for me to not let my Bachelor’s degree go to waste. My goal is NP, I live in Arizona and have looked at Grand Canyon University to getting a second Bachelor’s in Nursing and then go for the Master’s but that would take a long time. There is a MEPN program at University of Arizona but I do not understand if this will get me a MSN and end up as a NP or just allow me to be an RN and I would still need to go back to complete another degree to be a NP. Any information that you have would really help!

    Thank you!

  81. Mike, 

    Unfortunately the only RN-MS program I know of is the University of Portland. This program, however leads to a clinical nurse leader degree rather than a nurse practitioner degree. It looks like online might be your best bet!

    Try posting on the MyThriveAP message board to see if anyone else out there knows of any options in Oregon. 

  82. Hi Jazmin,

    I also cannot tell if the University of Arizona’s MEPN program will lead to an NP degree. There are a few types of master’s level nursing degrees including ‘clinical nurse leader’, ‘nurse educator’, and ‘nurse practitioner’. You should email the school and inquire as to which type of degree you would graduate with. 

    If the MEPN program isn’t a good fit, here is a link to a blog post describing the pros and cons of your options when it comes to becoming a nurse practitioner without a prior nursing degree. 

    Hope this helps!

  83. Hi Erin,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. I hope it isn’t too late to post for an answer but I have found myself stumped because I am interested in becoming an NP but I have a Biology undergraduate degree. I live in the Boston area and was wondering if there are any in the New England/ New York region?
    Thank you so much

  84. Sarah Sue Winberg

    Your blog seems to have some great information! Perhaps you have some advice for my situation as well. I already have my California ADN as well as a BA in an unrelated discipline. I want to further my RN license but I’m not sure what would be the best path to take and have a few questions.
    Would it be more cost effective to get my BSN first, or should I try an RN to MSN bridge program?
    Does it help me at all to already have both a BA and an ADN? Is there a way to utilize both degrees to save time/money on my path to MSN?
    Do I need to be working as an RN to enter a BSN or MSN program?
    And lastly, do you have any suggestions for schools in California?
    Thanks for your help!

  85. Hi, I have an ADN with 19 years experience in Texas but have to work full time while going to school. What are the quickest/ best options for me to become a nurse practitioner? Thanks!

  86. Check out Boston College, Johns Hopkins Univeristy, MGH Institute of Health Professions, and the Univeristy of Pennsylvania.

  87. Hello! I’m so lucky to stumble upon this post and hopefully you could help me out. I’m currently attending University of Oregon and majoring in psychology. I’ll be graduating with a B.S. in Psych by spring 2016 and I want to go to a school that offers an MSN for non-nursing majors. My ultimate goal is to become a nurse practitioner. Either a pediatric NP or a psychiatric NP. I’d prefer to attend a school in California but please, let me know what schools are my best options! Thank you!

  88. Hi,

    I have my bachelor’s degree in biology and have applied to several physician assistant (MSPA) programs over the last few years. I have yet to get in anywhere and I’m starting to explore other options because I really want to work at the level of a PA or NP. I live in the Phoenix area and would love to stay local. Do you have any information on bridge programs in Arizona?


  89. Hi Christa,

    Unfortunately I do not know of any bridge programs in Arizona. The closest schools offering these types of programs that I am aware of would be in the California State University system. Seattle University also offers a bridge program. 

  90. I am a certicate FNP and have a bsn but no masters. How can I get my masters without repeating the entire 2 year NP program? Is there any schools with bridge programs for certificate NP’s?

  91. Hi Erin,Iam Currently A Nursing Assistant Wanting To Become A NP.What Is The Shortest Route For Me I Wouldn’t Want To Be In School For Too Long.ILive In Connecticut.Thank You.

  92. Hi Dorcas,

    The quickest way for you to become an NP would be to get your RN degree then complete an RN-MSN program. 

  93. Hi! Thank you so much for all the useful information. I am currently enrolled in a ADN and just completed my first year. I already have my B.A. Degree in history with extra coursework completed in math and sciences. I have worked the last 7 years as a medical assistant for a Dermatologist and have also worked closely with a Dermatology NP. My goal/dream is to become a Dermatology NP and I am looking for some advice on how to do this the most efficient and affordable way. Thank you for your time and help!!

  94. Ok. I have found several schools who offer RN to FNP. However, a BSN is not given. I am confused what that means. I work in a magnet hospital and they will not hire anyone without a BSN. Even if you have a master degree… No BSN… No job! Does this same rule affect NPs? Does the license (for NP) make a difference? I don’t want to spend the money and time for a FNP only to find no one will hire me because I never got the BSN.
    Thanks for your help and info.

  95. Hi Rachel,

    I certainly can’t speak for every hospital, but as a nurse practitioner without a BSN degree, I have not seen this as a requirement to practice in the NP role. Some employers may require a certain amount of nursing experience, for example an acute care NP position may ask for at least two years of ICU nursing experience when hiring an inexperienced NP. I have not encountered an employer hiring for an NP position requiring a BSN degree as well. 

  96. Hi Erin,
    Your blog is incredibly helpful. Thank you for sharing your experience and advice. I have a couple of questions for you. I have a non-nursing Bachelors and am very interested in making a career change to nursing, specifically to an FNP. I start my prerequisites this Fall 2015 and am very excited.
    Q1: I have no work experience in health care and all of the bridge programs I am interested in look for this work experience which makes complete sense. I am trying to figure out what direction to go in for the work experience and would love to get your thoughts. CNA, PCA, other?
    Q2: I am in my mid 40s and would like to know if you see NPs entering the field mid-life. Although I do not have health care work experience I have a high degree of certainty that I want to be in advanced practice health care.
    Many thanks, Merryl

  97. Hi Meryl,

    Here are my thoughts on your questions:

    1. If you can get your certificate, CNA experience would be very valuable as you transition to a career in healthcare. Since this is in the nursing field it would also demonstrate your interest in nursing as you apply to NP programs. That being said, if you can’t find a program that fits your needs, any kind of direct patient care helps!
    2. I do see a lot of NPs entering the field later in life. Most that I talk with do have nursing experience. But, it is certainly not unheard of to make a career transition in your 40’s. 40 isn’t too old to become an NP!

    One thing that may help as you evaluate your career transition is to job shadow an NP to affirm your interest in the field. 


  98. Hi Erin,

    I attended MNU’s nursing program in 2007 and I completed the first year of nursing. Due to some personal issues I was unable to continue. I did however end up going back to school at Baker University and received my Bachelors in Exercise Science. I do not have any aid left for another Bachelors degree. I am now learning with my degree that there aren’t very many career options. I have 3 small children starting school this year. 2 in kindergarten and one in preschool. My questions is, is there a program that I could complete online to get my MSN degree and go onto NP? I am not sure with my prior nursing courses I have taken and check offs I have done if online is an option for me? I live in Kansas. Any help and advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  99. Trying to do a MSN in Education online. I have a RN, BSN, BS and Masters in Education. I would love to find somewhere that would have me take less, since I already hold a Masters but not in Nursing.

  100. Hi Erin,

    I’m sure you’ve prolly answered this question a million times, but what are the steps to becoming a nurse practitioner if I already have a bachelors degree in a non nursing related field.

  101. Hi! I’m a second year at UCSB completing my bachelors but I am still undecided. There are no nursing majors here in UCSB so I can’t get my BSN but I have just decided I want to become a nurse practitioner. I don’t know if I should try to transfer to another UC who has a nursing major since I am already a sophomore. Should I just finish my bachelors degree at UCSB? Ohh and I also forgot to mention I’m in the pathway of Bachelor of Arts (BA) In Chemistry ( chemistry is pending) but not Bachelors in Science IN chemistry (BS)? does that matter ? I do not know what to do after I graduate ucsb to become a nurse practitioner? Any help please..

  102. Hi!
    I’m very happy I stumbled upon this blog.
    I am a junior at Lock Haven University in the “pre- physician assistant” Health Science program. I haven taken many health science and hard sciences courses. I have almost a 4.0 GPA, have assisted professors in research, and have hands-on patient hours. I also have a minor in Community Health (which I love!) I will be applying to graduate programs this spring and I should be able to get into Lock Haven’s graduate PA program.

    I am struggling with the decision to pursue PA school.
    I see myself fit into the role of an NP much better: I am passionate about disease prevention and health promotion. I believe in promoting healthy, balanced lifestyles and I approach a patient with a very holistic view. I see NPs as leaders in healthcare in these areas.

    I am really having trouble deciding if pursuing this route as a NP would really get me to different place than going to PA school. I do not have my RN, so additional time (and money)would be required to get my NP license.

    I live right outside of Philadephia. I know that Jefferson University has an accelerated program that would take (I think) about 3 years.

    Do you have any suggestions or advice to give me?

    Thanks so much!!

  103. Hi Bekah,

    Job shadow! The best way to decide which career would be the best fit is to get a real-life look at the differences. Ask 2 NPs and 2PAs if you can shadow them for a few hours at work. This will help you decide. 

    It may also help to know that in reality both are very similar. in fact, many employers hire nurse practitioners and physician assistants interchangeably. So no matter which route you ultimately pick you will have a great career outlook. 

  104. Hello,

    I have a bachelor in biology with a minor in chemistry. I have always dreamed about going to pharmacy school but after doing some research and working as a pharm tech, I feel it is not a wise career move for me. I am thinking about nursing and looked into accelerated BSN and MSN programs. Do you know which program will cost less? Also, I am also thinking about CRNA so will getting a BSN better choice than the MSN? Please any help will be well appreciated.

  105. Hi Glory, 

    You cannot become a MSN without first getting a BSN degree. Getting a BSN is also the first step toward becoming a CRNA. I would say your first best step is to get a BSN degree. Then, you can reassess your interests once you have some training and experience to determine your next educational step. 

  106. Your blog has been very helpful. I wish I knew about the bridge programs before starting my ADN program but I am almost done!! I would like to get my DNP. I currently have a BS & MS in health related fields but not nursing. I would prefer not to get a BSN and MSN en route to getting my DNP. Can you provide insight on the possible routes I could take? Thank you!!

  107. Hi Erin!

    Your blog is so informative! I currently have a bachelors (non-nursing) and a masters in public health epidemiology. I’m looking for bridge programs to help me get my NP. Do you have any recommendations for the Los Angeles/Orange County area?


  108. Hi! I have been an RN for many years – graduated from a Diploma program. I also have a BS in Organizational Management. I am interested in a new Camp Nursing certificate program that has just become available. The pre-requisite is a BSN. I have been researching programs and it looks like it might take just as long to get a BSN as it would to get a MSN? A couple of questions…is there a faster way to get a BSN so that I can enroll in the Certificate program that I am really interested in? Or…is there a better way to complete an MSN program instead? Or…is there a way to incorporate the Certificate program in to a Master’s program?

  109. Hi Tricia, 

    I will have to look into accelerated BSN program options. There are several RN-MSN programs allowing you to become a nurse practitioner while bypassing the BSN component. Here is a list of online RN-MSN programs with a nurse practitioner focus

    I do not believe any universities incorporate the camp nursing certificate into their degree program. So, you would likely need to complete this separately. Some camps, however may be willing to hire you as a nurse or NP without a camp nursing certificate. 

  110. Hi, I am currently a second year undergraduate in California.

    I am concerned as to whether or not Direct Nurse Practitioner Programs that are 2-3 years will still be available by the time I graduate in 2018.

    If not, what will the DNP process be like and how long will it take?

  111. Hi Marie, 

    Most likely there will be plenty of MSN options to choose from when you graduate. If the location where you can attend your NP program is limited, this of course reduces your number of options. If you do plan to get a DNP, this requires 1-2+ additional years of study depending on how quickly you complete the program. 

    This blog post, DNP Link Pack: Clarifying the Confusion may help!

  112. Hi Erin,

    I came upon this blog, and have found all your posts and responses to be helpful. I am going to be graduating soon with a BA in another field (I live in California), and have discovered a newfound interest in becoming a Nurse Practitioner potentially specializing in Orthopaedics. I understand I must partake in a nursing program to initially become licensed as an RN, and then continue to work my way forward as I fulfill a MSN program and potentially a DNP program. Do you think I am on a right path if – post-graduate – I proceed by pursuing an accelerated BSN, move on to MSN, and then ultimately to DNP? Obviously, I would want to pursue the most efficient and cost-friendly way. I would also be (hopefully) securing internship programs working in hospitals, clinics, and etc. to gain experience and hands-on training, as I have no background experience or nursing education whatsoever.
    Thank you for your time and help!


  113. Hi Esther, 

    Yes! This is the path to becoming an NP. You will first need an RN or BSN degree. A BSN leaves you with the greatest number of options moving forward. Then, you can apply for your MSN. A DNP is optional. Best of luck!

  114. HI … So I was just wondering if any one knew a very quick ADN to a Nurse Practitioner program that is accredited by a state board of nursing. It can be anywhere in the US. I am willing to locate anywhere if I can get it in a year. Is that realistic or am i just trying to move too fast? I currently have my associates degree of nursing, and want to get my NP as fast as I can.

  115. Hi, I am about to graduate with a health science major at Cleveland State University with a pre- Physician Assistant track. I’m thinking about changing to get a MSN, and I heard I might have to to get my BSN. I was wondering if anyone knew programs near me that would allow me to get my RN and MSN?

  116. I have a BS & MS degree and will finish my adn this fall. I am looking to obtain DNP. What path would you suggest that would eliminate unnecessary degrees.

  117. Hi Aisley, 

    The quickest path for you would be to get your MSN with an ADN-MSN program. Then, you can get your DNP. This way you can bypass an additional bachelor’s degree. 

  118. Hello! I feel quite crazy for even considering this, because I just (like yesterday) completed my MPH…I guess I’m a sucker for punishment. I have a BSW and work in a psychiatric setting as a treatment specialist. Are you aware of any pathway programs available for BSW/MPH to obtain an NP? I am only curious because I swore to myself that I would never go back to school after my master’s degree.


  119. Hi,

    I have a Bachelor’s in Behavioral Science and a Master’s of Science in Counseling and Counseling. I am a Licensed Counselor in Florida. I would like to become a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. What is the quickest way to this? What Universities offer entry to non RN’s?
    Thank you for your help.

  120. Hi Felicia, 

    You have 2 options: 

    1. Get your RN degree then attend an RN-MSN program online. This way you bypass the BSN degree requirement
    2. An accelerated RN-MSN program for non-nurses. Here is a list of the programs I am aware of. This offers a more streamlined route than the first option as you bypass the BSN requirement but also avoid apply to multiple programs. 
  121. Hi! My name is Hannah, and I just recently graduated with my ADN RN in May 2015. I am wanting to enroll and start nurse practitioner school right away, but I am running into the problem of having at least 2 years of RN experience. Any schools that will accept me with hardly any RN experience and all online?!?

  122. Hi! I have an undergrad degree in Psychology and I reside in St. Louis. Do you have any suggestions on the quickest route to NP for me? Thanks!!

  123. Hi there,
    I have newly discovered that I would like to become a nurse practitioner. Single mom to 6, I am looking for the most straightforward method to getting there. I have a BA. I am open to one of the programs that kicks in nurse midwifery into the NP program, or not. Ultimately, I want the NP degree to be a launching pad from which to specialize in brain/neuro science/medicine. I would also like to have a more functional medicine approach where possible, but I figure that also would come after the NP degree. I could be way out of left field here, as I’m just starting to look into this. I’m in SE Washington and there is a community college near with a University extension program providing nursing degrees, but the initial contact I made wasn’t sure what they would have for me.

    I would love whatever thoughts and recommendations you can make. Moving is not high on my list, but it’s not out of the question for the right program….

    Thank you,

  124. Hi Jul,

    With a previous BA degree, you have 2 options:

    1. Attend an MEPN (Masters Entry Program in Nursing also known as accelerated or bridge program).  These programs are for students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. They typically take 2-3 years to complete. The downside is there are few of them in the country and they are expensive. 

    2. Get your RN then attend an RN-MSN program. This can often be done part-time and/or online. It is the most cost effective and the most flexible option. 

    Good luck!  Let me know if you have further questions. 

  125. Hi Laura,

    With a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, there are 2 ‘quick’ routes you can take to becoming a nurse practitioner.

    1. Attend an MEPN (Masters Entry Program in Nursing also known as accelerated or bridge program).  These programs are for students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. They typically take 2-3 years to complete. The downside is there are few of them in the country and they are expensive. 

    2. Get your RN degree then attend an RN-MSN program. This can often be done part-time and/or online. It is the most cost effective and the most flexible option for most students, especially those who are unable to relocate. 

    Hope this helps!

  126. I have my BS in Community Health Education and Radiology Certification. I have worked as a CT tech for the past 11 years. I want to advance in my career where advancement is limited. If I have taken nursing 11 years ago instead of radiology I would be getting my NP right now. How can I go about getting NP if I’m not a nurse. I have been reading about bridge programs. Is there anything available in Omaha, NE? Thanks for your help.

  127. Hi Tara, 

    With a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, there are 2 ‘quick’ routes you can take to becoming a nurse practitioner.

    1. Attend an MEPN (Masters Entry Program in Nursing also known as accelerated or bridge program).  These programs are for students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. They typically take 2-3 years to complete. The downside is there are few of them in the country and they are expensive. 

    2. Get your RN degree then attend an RN-MSN program. This can often be done part-time and/or online. It is the most cost effective and the most flexible option for most students, especially those who are unable to relocate. 

  128. Hi.
    I am a licensedchiropractor. I am looking to go back to school for my dnp. What steps would I be able to take considering I have most of the pre requisites completed?I have 4 children with a busy practice and I am a single parent.
    Thank you for your time.

  129. Hi Christa, 

    Your options are the same as those I outlined for Tara in the comment above. 

    One thing to consider is that some schools accept courses as prerequisites only if they are completed within a certain time frame. For example, a school may only accept courses completed within the past 5 years – something to be aware of as you evaluate your options. 

  130. I am a Clinical Nurse Specialists and would like to become a NP. What Universities offer this transition?
    What courses are required?

  131. Hi BJ, 

    If you have an MSN, you would need a post-master’s nurse practitioner degree. Typically, this is a one year program and is offered by many universities. 

  132. Hi Erin. Wonderful advice. I’m currently a juvenile correctional officer. Not teal pleased with the professional atmosphere for many reasons. I’m considering switching to nursing. I have completed two English courses and one psychology class. When I was younger, I thought I completed a degree in business,online, only to find out that the school was not accredited, so I guess the time and money spent was a total rip off and waste. Do you know of any online schools that have a adn-bsn combined program for non licensed students?
    Thank you so much for your time and insights. I currently live in Arizona.
    Best, Tiffany

  133. Hi, I’m a firefighter/paramedic with a bachelors degree in political science. I did however complete the entire premed program. I am business minded and really enjoy healthcare a lot and want to entertwine them. I would like to open my own urgent care after practicing as an NP for a few years. Since I work 2-3 24 hour shifts a week going to a traditional classroom would be very unlikely to work for me. I need an online program. I’ve been doing a lot of research as pa school was originally my plan but I don’t think there are any online pa schools. Thanks for your help!

  134. Hi Erin!

    I am a Registered Respiratory Therapist with over 15 years of experience and will be graduating in December 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. When I returned to college I did so under the pretense that I could not become a nurse practitioner without a degree in nursing. I had intended to apply to physician assistant programs and still may, but would prefer a nurse practitioner program. Are there any programs in Wisconsin that offer programs for non-nursing health care professionals with bachelor degrees?


  135. Hello,
    Please HELP!!! I did MSN in pediatric nursing from India. I recently get my RN licence in United States. How i can become Nurse Practitioner in United States?? Do i need to study again or do any bridge course??

  136. Hi to another Erin! I have a BA & MSW and am planning to start taking prerequisites for nursing school soon. I live in South Louisiana and would like to be able to stay in the south if at all possible. Planning to specialize in adult or lifespan psychiatry as NP. Any thoughts you have on the matter would be greatly helpful. I am looking into either Vanderbilt or University of Rochester but don’t want to miss any programs closer to home.

  137. I am looking for a Bridge program in Maryland, preferably Middle or Southern Maryland area. Do you know of any ? Or maybe a program that can be started online but finished elsewhere?

  138. Hi Tiffany, 

    I believe Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore offers a nurse practitioner program that might work. 

  139. Hi. I was wondering if you knew of any good NP programs in Indiana that don’t require much RN experience prior to applying! Thanks in advance!

  140. Currently live in WV. Hold ADN degree and interested in completing degrees necessary for FNP. Would like to fast track the process straight to MSN. Any suggestions?

  141. Hi Erin,

    Thanks for taking the time to do this, your responses are very inspirational!
    I’m currently obtaining my MS in Health Administration but after gaining some experience in the hospital setting, I’m interesting in having a clinical background in nursing as well. I’ve looked into some direct-entry MSN programs in California, however I would still need to work at least part-time to support myself. In your opinion, would it be financially and career wise to go right back to school after completing my MHA and do a direct-entry MSN program or should I just get a license as an RN since I’ll already have my MHA? Or do you know of anyone in this position?

  142. Hi Nina, 

    Here are my thoughts on your situation: 

    1. Most direct entry programs are full-time. Based on my own experience, it would be very difficult to work while attending a direct entry program. I would talk to admissions faculty at your prospective schools to see if they feel students have time to work while completing the program as schools can vary. 
    2. I can’t really comment on if it would be financially wise for you to go back to school as I don’t know your personal situation. I suggest looking at the numbers based on each option. Ex. What would your income vs. student loan payments and debt look like if you work with your MHA alone to start out? What would your income vs. student loan payments and debt look like if you got your NP degree? I can say that direct entry programs are very expensive. Choosing the RN route will be much more cost effective in the long run. 
  143. Dear Erin,

    Thank you for all of your work on this blog and the plethora of helpful information.
    I come from a non-science background, with a Bachelors, Masters and a professional studies graduate program – all in classical music performance.
    I am considering attempting a career transformation to becoming a Nurse Practitioner, most likely with a specialization in Pediatrics (what appears to interest me). I live just outside of San Francisco and see that UCSF has a specific program, but I would need to satisfy a number of prerequisites before even applying. I also see MSN programs at SF State University and San Jose State University, but it’s a little less clear whether they offer a direct pathway to becoming an NP, and even less clear about the pediatric specialization. SJ State University seems to offer a conditional acceptance, which would allow me to complete prerequisites as I’m working toward starting the program, but without the NP pathway being clear I’m not sure if that would give me what I need.

    The questions then are:
    – If I am able to complete an MSN program at either SFSU or SJSU, would that be enough to be considered for NP licensure, or would I then need to apply to a program such as UCSF?
    – Would it make sense to simply do the prerequisite coursework at a community college first, and then apply? Or is there a way to fast-track the process and incorporate the pre-requisites into the program, somewhat like what SJSU appears to offer?

    Thank you in advance, and I apologize if my questions appear trivial or redundant. Any information will be hugely appreciated!


    p.s. If you know of other programs/schools in the area that would offer an NP pathway, I’d appreciate that too. Thanks!

  144. Hi,
    I am looking to obtain a FNP degree. I’m currently an RN in Minnesota with a BSN degree. What is the fastest way to a FNP from BSN? Thanks!

  145. Hi I am from California and I have a bachelors of Art in sociology with a reasonably high gpa 3.82. I have taken anatomy, physio, micro, 1st semester General Chem, biochem, etc. I’m having trouble finding 2-3 year programs that will allow me to become a nurse practitioner. I would ideally find a program that will also award a bsn. I did some research but it seems like all the programs in Southern California no longer accept people that don’t have a bsn. Thank you for your time.

  146. I have a BSN and live in NC. I am currently planning on applying for FNP school for next year. I am noticing that a lot of schools have restrictions on a few states and do not take applicants from those states, NC being one. Why are we being restricted as to where we attend online programs?

  147. After practicing law for many years I decided to become an RN and had no intention of getting any education beyond what was needed for a basic RN to take the NCLEX. I just finished my first year of nursing school at a local community college, where it is relatively cheap. After doing my mental health rotation, I developed an interest in becoming an APRN in the Psych Mental Health arena so that I can do most forms of therapy and prescribe meds.

    I am near Reno, Nevada. What’s the fastest way for me to get that APRN MSN PMHNP? I heard UNR now has a MSN for Mental Health NP but they require the BSN before that.

    I read all of the above. I hate to move but I’m also not getting any younger. Time is of the essence. However, I do have to weigh the increased income versus the cost of a program. I too need some loan help for all of this.

    Thank you!

  148. Hi Tanya, 

    There are several programs out there that do not require a BSN, but allow RNs to enter an MSN program. You might try these online RN-MSN programs that lead to a nurse practitioner degree

    Your other option would be to complete your BSN while working, then go on to attend a traditional MSN program. You could complete your MSN online. Full-time will allow you to get your degree more quickly, however, part-time will allow you to work and may be more favorable financially. 

  149. Hello,
    I am looking into obtaining a NP degree but do not already have a nursing degree and need more information on how to do this. I would like to try to do the accelerated route, if possible (or whichever route would be a shorter period of time for me). I currently have a bachelor’s in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and my Master’s in Biology. I would like to try to do as much online that I can. I am from Northeast Louisiana and would also like to try to stay close to this area for any on campus courses I would need to take. What are some different options that I have?
    Thank you!

  150. Hi Erin,

    I read all your information and am really interested in a little help making my decision to see what is the best plan for me. I have a Bachelors in Health Policy and Administration, a Masters in Health Education and experience working in the medical field in my past. I have taken mostly all the prerequisites in the past because of my Health and Science background. However, I am tying to find the best option for me to become a Nurse Practitioner. I live in Pittsburgh, PA and am wondering, is there a Nurse Practitioner Program here for those without Nursing Degrees. What would you suggest?

  151. Hi Sonja, 

    With previous bachelors and masters degrees, you have 2 options:

    1. Attend an MEPN (Masters Entry Program in Nursing also known as accelerated or bridge program).  These programs are for students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. They typically take 2-3 years to complete. The downside is there are few of them in the country and they are expensive. 

    2. Get your RN then attend an RN-MSN program. This can often be done part-time and/or online. It is the most cost effective and the most flexible option. 

    Here is a list of the programs I am aware of. The University of Pennsylvania is closest to you. 

  152. Reading through your blog and am thankful for giving us information. I graduated with my BS a year ago in Kinesiology as I was looking into PA programs. For more options now I have been looking into FNP but always thought you needed to be a registered nurse prior to application. Until a FNP I knew told me about how to get MSN without a BSN. I was wondering if you had any tips on applying and schools that have MSN without BSN programs.
    Thank you so much in advance

  153. Hi Caitlin, 

    Thank you for reading! 

    We are actually publishing an article today about applying to nurse practitioner programs that I think you would find helpful. So, check out the front page of the ThriveAP blog for tips you can use. 

  154. First and foremost thank you for taking the time out to read my messages.
    I am currently attending nursing school now to sit for my nclex exam . I have about a year left. I hold a AA in pre nursing.
    My ultimate goal is to become a nurse practitioner midwife. I wanted to pursue the fast route to finish. I am looking into RN – nurse practitioner midwife. Do you advise a school to complete this ?
    Is it possible to go from a RN straight into a nurse practitioner wife course ?
    Thank you in advance

  155. Hello I live in the NY/NJ area and I’m in the process of obtaining my RN, I do have a bachelor’s in biochemsitry, is there anyway for me to find a RN to MSN direct?


  156. Hi Andria, 

    I am not aware of any bridge programs in Illinois or Iowa. The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati both offer accelerated NP programs and may be an option for you. 

  157. I’m really interested in pursuing my career in esthetics and I want to take it to the next level by becoming more medical. I want to work in dermatology but I’m not really cut out for med school. I honestly don’t want to go to nursing school, just because the life of a cna or rna is just NOT for me. I would love to become an NP and work in dermatology and was wanting to know if there was anyway to get around having experience working with the sick and dying in hospitals?

  158. Hi Amy, 

    With an accelerated NP program, you will not need nursing experience to become a nurse practitioner. As part of nursing school, however you will need to complete rotations in the hospital. While this may not be the focus of your career, it will provide valuable background you will need to work as an NP. 

    In your nurse practitioner program, you will be able to complete your clinical hours in the outpatient setting. 

  159. Hello! I live in Raleigh, NC. My wife is currently attending graduate school. I am unable to move from the area. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and family studies with a minor in chemistry. Are there any affordable “bridge programs” near me? If not would it be best to peruse an ADN or RN first and look for an online NP program?

  160. Hi Kay, 

    Here is a list of bridge programs I am aware of. It looks like the closest would be East Carolina University. 

    Yes, you are correct that the next best option would be to get your ADN or RN, then look for online RN-MSN programs. 

    Good luck!

  161. Hi Erin! I am exploring the idea of getting an MSN through an on-line program. I am an RN (3 yr diploma program) and a BS in Health Studies. I have 38 years experience in both inpatient psych and community mental health nursing. What is the quickest and most inexpensive way to do this? Do I still have to obtain a BSN as part of the process? I would prefer to specialize in Mental Health but this isn’t mandatory. I also have to figure out whether it is a worthwhile investment for someone in their late 50’s.i.e. Would I end up paying back student loans with my social security check? lol…) Thanks!

  162. Hi Diane, 

    The quickest route for you would be to get your RN degree rather than a BSN. Then, you can attend an RN-MSN program. There are a few of these programs available online. 

    Before you commit to this path, I would check to be sure that there is an RN-MSN program that will work for you, either online or in your area in the mental health specialty. 

    There are many students who choose to become NPs later in their careers, but you definitely want to get out your calculator to see how the numbers add up! I can say that for psychiatric nurse practitioners, salaries are high and the job market is excellent. 

  163. Hi,

    Wanting to go back to school to be Nurse in order to become a NP. I have a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry already. Wondering what’s the fastest way to get to become a NP. Currently live in Dallas and wondering there are any online programs that I can accelerated this process.


  164. Hi Kim, 

    The fastest way for you to become an NP given that you already have a B.S. would be with a direct entry (accelerated) program. These programs are 2-3 years in length and award both an RN and MSN degree. Here is a list of schools (that I am aware of) offering these programs. 

  165. Hello,

    I live in Tampa, FL and I’m looking for an accelerated program in my area or online. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  166. I have a BA in English and an associates degree in nursing. I have an active RN license. I am wanting to become a nurse practitioner. What is my fastest track?

  167. I have a degree in Nutrition and a master’s in Science Education. I have been teaching anatomy for 15 years and teaching for 28. What is the fastest and /or cheapest way to become a Nurse Proctioner

  168. I have a BSN Business Admin, Concentration in Healthcare Management, and would like to be a NP, but work full-time in the medical field, and prefer an online school. My state of residence is GA.

  169. Hi, I have a bachelors in psychology with no RN license and was wanting to become a nurse practitioner however I can’t seem to find the programs that fit my educational background. Could you help me?

  170. Hi, I have just graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy and want to change my career to a NP. Do I have to have a BSN to even enroll? What would you suggest the best path to my career goal would be at this point?

    Thanks for your help!

  171. I’ve been an RRT for 1 year. I only have an Associates Degree. I’m looking into becoming an NP. I was planning on taking online classes for my Bachelors but after that, would I be able to bridge over to NP?

  172. Elizabeth Ebner

    I have an undergrad degree in biology and Master’s in nutritional sciences. I am a registered dietitian and BC-ADM and CDE. I would like to be able to prescribe, and love the ability to continue patient care. Thank you for any help.

  173. Hello,
    I currently live In Minnesota and I am about to receive my associates degree in Psychology. I plan to transfer to The University of Minnesota but they only offer a program for new nursing students which means I would basically have to start over and go to school for another 4 years to receive my bachelors. I am currently going for a BA in Psychology with a minor in Biology and Business. I really want to be a Psychiatric NP in the future. I am planning on moving to Oregon after receiving my bachelor degree and at this point I’m thinking it would be faster just to join an accelerated RN/MSN degree. What do you think? What are some programs in Oregon? Thanks:)

  174. Melissa Schneider

    I’m currently a licensed social worker in Pittsburgh PA and would like to be able to prescribe psychiatric medications to my clients. I have a masters in social work and no prior nursing experience.

  175. My wife is trying to find a bridge program to get into. Are any of them online. Any help or information would be great.


  176. I live in Tampa,Fl. I will like to find the closest school for a Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs (Bachelor’s Degree in Non-Nursing Field to MSN Pathway)
    And a RN to NP bridge program closes to us and or/ online options.

  177. Here is my status at this moment,
    As a first generation college student, I did my bachelor’s from Lehman College (CUNY) on Anthropology, biology, and chemistry with all the premed courses. After my graduation, I have started my medical classes at St James School of Medicine. Right now I am a medical student and am preparing for my upcoming board exams. In my med school, I have completed anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and all other medical courses. While I was preparing for my board exams I was working at urgent care with MDs and NPs for direct patient care (clinical and charting related works).
    If I continue with my medical classes and going to take all the board exams it will take a lot of time and can’t really afford that much money to complete my medical degree.
    At this moment my family and I want to change my track and finish my education career as soon as possible and start supporting my family.
    In this circumstance, I want to start a direct NP program or Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs. I heard students like me who went to med school and working directly with patients can enroll in a direct NP program. How about NP programs for non-nurses?
    Would you please help me out or give me any suggestions on what can I do?
    I really need your help.

    With best regards,
    Maruful Bhuiyan

  178. Hello,
    I’m in NC. I finishing my online bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration and management. I’m looking into direct entry to NP program or bridge program as you call it. Do you know of any in my area? I would prefer online, but can do hybrid as well.
    Thank you!

  179. Heather Kilpatrick

    I have a BA and 2 masters, MBA & MHA. What would my options be for bridging to MSN? I’ve been in healthcare for 20 years.

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