Online Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) Programs

A pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) is a graduate- or doctoral-level nursing program that provides students with the specialized knowledge and skills necessary to care for infants, children, and adolescents. In addition, PNPs can diagnose and treat common pediatric conditions and provide preventative care and education to families. PNP programs include graduate- and doctoral-level coursework in child development, growth and development, family dynamics, and pediatric pharmacology. PNP programs also include clinical rotations in various healthcare settings, such as primary care offices, hospitals, and specialty clinics.

Pediatric NPs are in high demand as healthcare access expands to children, parents, and families. In July 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was awarded $49 million to expand healthcare access to millions more children, parents, and families covered under Medicare & Medicaid. PNPs work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and K-12 schools. 

With specialized training in pediatrics, PNPs can care for children of all ages, from newborns to adolescents and young adults up to age 21. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022) predicts a 46 percent increase in openings for nurse practitioners nationally, adding 112,700 new positions from 2021 to 2031. It’s the fastest-growing occupation in the country. And according to Payscale.com, in January 2023, pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) earned $96,179 per year based on 1,122 self-reported profiles. 

When it comes to pediatric healthcare, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. PNPs can diagnose and treat various conditions, making them an essential part of any healthcare team. A pediatric NP can specialize in cardiology or oncology. With advanced knowledge and practical training, PNPs can provide the highest quality care for sick or injured children. 

To help RNs expand their careers, accredited online pediatric NP programs offer a variety of benefits for aspiring PNPs, patients, and health providers. This guide provides an overview of different types of accredited PNP programs, requirements for admission, clinical supervision hours, and 12 accredited online pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) programs.

Featured Online Pediatric NP Programs

University of Texas - Arlington
MSN - Pediatric NP (Acute or Primary Care)
University of Texas - Arlington
Post-MSN Certificate - Pediatric NP (Acute or Primary Care)
Walden University
MSN - Pediatric NP (Primary Care)
King University
MSN - Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Sponsored

What is a Pediatric NP Program?

The PNP degree is a graduate (MSN) or doctoral (DNP) nursing degree, the highest levels of education a nurse practitioner can earn in pediatrics. 

To be admitted, PNP candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (for MSN programs) or a master of science in nursing (for DNP programs). Regardless of the degree, all applicants must be licensed as registered nurses (RN) to be eligible for enrollment in a PNP degree program.

Types of PNP Degree Programs

There are many different ways for aspiring pediatric nurse practitioners to pursue their education, each with its own requirements. There are three main types of PNP programs: MSN, DNP, and post-master’s certificate programs. In addition, PNP programs are available on-campus, online, and in hybrid (a blend of on-campus and online) learning formats. 

MSN Programs

A master of science in nursing (MSN) program is an entry-level degree for pediatric nurse practitioners. MSN programs offer specializations, including pediatrics, and typically take two to three years to complete and include coursework in child development, pharmacology, family nursing, and pediatric assessment and diagnosis. Upon completing an accredited MSN program, PNPs can take a national certification exam to become board certified. MSN programs take approximately two to three years to complete.

DNP Programs

A doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) program prepares PNPs for advanced practice roles in pediatric care. DNP with pediatric nurse practitioner specializations combines didactic coursework with clinical experiences to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to care for children and families. 

DNP programs typically include advanced health assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and evidence-based practice courses. They usually conclude with a capstone project that allows students to apply their knowledge and skills to a real-world problem or issue. DNP programs can be completed in two to six years, depending on the type of program (e.g., MSN-to-DNP, BSN-to-DNP, or RN-to-DNP). 

Post-Master’s Certificate Programs

A pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) post-master’s certificate program is a graduate-level course of study that PNPs can pursue with an MSN or DNP degree. PNP post-master’s certificate programs generally consist of advanced coursework in pediatric nursing and clinical training in a pediatric setting. PNP post-master’s certificate programs typically take one to two years to complete. 

Many pediatric NPs have a background in primary or acute care. Pediatric NP graduates from these types of programs can take one of several pediatric nurse practitioner examinations to obtain a professional certification after completing a PNP program.

PNP Program & School Accreditation

There are two distinct kinds of accreditation: programmatic and institutional.

The programmatic accreditation process assesses the rigor of an educational program within a larger college or university to ensure it meets rigorous criteria. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) vets baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs, whereas the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) regulates associate’s, bachelor’s, and doctoral degrees. To be eligible for admission to a CCNE-accredited MSN, DNP, or post-master’s PNP certificate program, nurses must complete a CCNE- or ACEN-accredited baccalaureate nursing degree.

In contrast, institutional accreditation examines the entire institution. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a branch of the US Department of Education, approves seven regional institutional accrediting bodies.

When looking for online programs, it’s critical to check the state authorization or NC-SARA status. It’s also a good idea to double-check whether a program accepts students from your home state and whether it meets licensing criteria in the states where you want to pursue PNP professional licensure. Prospective students may find this data on school websites or by contacting them directly.

Typical Admissions Requirements for PNP Degrees

To become a pediatric nurse practitioner, one must complete a two- to three-year program and pass a national certification exam. The requirements for admission into these programs vary, but many require prerequisite courses and common application materials.

Prerequisite Courses: 

  • Advanced physiology & pathophysiology
  • Advanced health assessment
  • Advanced pharmacotherapeutics
  • Undergraduate statistics
  • Computer literacy (for clinical workflow and scholarly work) 

Many programs require students to pass prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or higher. 

Application Requirements: 

  • Application and fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Active RN license
  • One to two years of clinical nursing experience
  • Bachelor of science in nursing from an accredited nursing school 
  • One year of work experience as a registered nurse
  • Bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN) from a nursing program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or from the American Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Personal statement
  • Professional letters of reference 
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores (for international applicants from countries where the primary language is not English)

Supervised Hour Requirements for PNP Degrees

Pediatric NPs must meet rigorous educational and clinical requirements to be licensed and practiced. One of the critical requirements is the completion of supervised clinical hours. Supervised clinical hours ensure that PNPs can gain hands-on experience in the field. 

PNPs must complete a certain number of hours to be eligible for state licensure and professional certification. The requirements vary by state and certification, but most require PNPs to complete between 500 and 1,000 clinical hours. For example, the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) requires a minimum of 500 clinical hours and recommends 600 for pediatric nurse practitioners in acute care.  

Many PNP programs include clinical hour components that meet or exceed state licensure and professional certification requirements. Keep reading to learn more about 12 online PNP programs. 

Featured Online PNP Degrees

MSN Programs in Pediatrics

Drexel University 

Drexel University’s MSN pediatric nurse practitioner program is designed to prepare nurses for advanced roles in the healthcare field. The program emphasizes evidence-based practice, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the critical use of new technology. As a result, nurse practitioners specializing in pediatric primary care will be able to meet patients’ demanding physiological and social needs from infancy through adolescence. 

Upon completion of the program, students are eligible for certification as a Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner through ANCC or PNCB.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Duration: One year
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 
  • Tuition: $1,069 per credit

Houston Baptist University 

Houston Baptist University offers an MSN in pediatric nurse practitioner primary care degree that students can complete online. The asynchronous coursework is combined with a clinical placement at a leading healthcare provider near the student’s place of residence (517 hours). 

The faith-based education with a holistic approach provides fall and spring start dates. MSN pediatric nurse practitioner programs prepare nurses to provide comprehensive care for children from birth to early adulthood. The scope of practice includes performing physical exams, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing medication, and providing wellness counseling. 

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Duration: 24 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)  
  • Tuition: $500 per credit

University of Texas Arlington

The University of Texas Arlington MSN in acute care nurse practitioner program prepares students to work with the growing number of children with complex, high–acuity healthcare needs. 

Students will learn to provide children with evidence-based interventions to facilitate optimum health and growth. They gain essential elements of advanced nursing practice for pediatric acute and chronic healthcare in a wide range of environments, including critical care, emergency rooms, specialty office practices or clinics, and intensive rehabilitation and early intervention programs. This program is 45 credits and is offered online.

  • Location: Arlington, TX
  • Duration: 31 to 33 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 
  • Tuition: $1,962 per course

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

The master of science in nursing (MSN) pediatric primary care nurse practitioner track (PNP-PC) at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing prepares graduates to assume the role of a healthcare provider dedicated to improving children’s health. 

This 49-credit program is designed for RNs with two years of pediatric experience. It focuses on preparing students to care for well and ill children of all ages in various practice settings. Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board (PNCB) Exam and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

  • Location: Lubbock, TX
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)  
  • Tuition: $265 per credit (residents); $673 per credit (non-residents)

DNP Programs in Pediatrics

Walden University 

Walden University’s DNP in pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) primary care program prepares registered nurses (RNs) with the knowledge and skills necessary to care for patients from birth to age 21. 

The DNP-PNP curriculum comprises 45 quarter-credits and can be completed in as little as two years. To be considered for admission to this doctoral program, applicants must have a current, active RN license, an accredited master of science in nursing, and meet the general admission requirements. 

  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • Duration: 1.5 to eight years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)   
  • Tuition: $871 per quarter hour 

Oregon Health & Science University 

The DNP-PNP program at Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Nursing is a hybrid program that provides students with the foundation and scaffolding for becoming competent and caring pediatric nurse practitioners, scholars, and leaders. The program includes didactic and clinical courses, beginning with foundational coursework and advancing to specialized clinical applications. 

In addition to providing direct care to children, graduates are prepared as lifelong learners, leaders, and advocates for children and their families. All students in the program will be ready to be certified as both primary care (PC) and acute care (AC) DNP pediatric nurse practitioners.

  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Duration: Three years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 
  • Tuition: $673 per credit (residents); $874 per credit (non-residents)

Rush University

The DNP pediatric nurse practitioner program at Rush University provides students with the clinical and evidence-based skills necessary to improve health outcomes for patients and populations. Class sizes are limited to 27 students, allowing individualized attention and instruction. 

The program emphasizes independent and interprofessional practice, focusing on developing leadership skills. Through coursework, clinical rotations, and research initiatives, students gain the knowledge and experience necessary to care for infants, children, and adolescents in various primary care settings. 

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Duration: Two to 3.5 years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)  
  • Tuition: $1,286 per credit 

University of Cincinnati 

The DNP pediatric nurse practitioner online program at the University of Cincinnati prepares students to provide care for children with complex acute, critical and chronic health conditions. The program meets the educational requirements for national certification by the pediatric nursing certification board, and graduates are eligible to take the exam to become certified acute care pediatric nurse practitioners (CPNPs). 

  • Location: Cincinnati, OH
  • Duration: Nine semesters
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)  
  • Tuition: $746 per credit (residents); $1,333 per credit (non-residents)

Post-Master’s Certificate Programs in Pediatrics

University of Arizona

The PNP certificate program at the University of Arizona is a four-semester, part-time opportunity for working registered nurses. Campus experiences complement online course content for learning and demonstrating health assessment skills. Graduates of the PNP specialty are registered nurses with advanced education in pediatric nursing beyond the initial preparation of registered nurse. 

To qualify for the PNP graduate certificate program, students must have a master of science degree in nursing. The program requires a minimum of 27 credits and 720 clinical hours. Students who complete the PNP certificate program will be prepared to care for children of all ages, from newborns to adolescents, assess and manage acute and chronic health problems, and promote developmentally appropriate health maintenance. 

  • Location: Tucson, AZ
  • Duration: Four semesters
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)  
  • Tuition: $1,053 per credit

University of Toledo

The University of Toledo offers a PNP certificate program that can be completed entirely online, except for clinical and lab courses, which students must take in person. This part-time program is ideal for students who already have a graduate degree in nursing and want to become certified nurse practitioners. 

The 18-credit program allows students to travel abroad and experience diverse cultures while providing service to communities in need of healthcare in Nicaragua and Haiti. In addition, graduates of the PNP certificate program at the University of Toledo are eligible to sit for the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB) certification exam.

  • Location: Toledo, OH
  • Duration: Three semesters
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)   
  • Tuition: $559.90 per credit (residents); $1,033.22 per credit (non-residents)

University of Tennessee Knoxville 

The University of Tennessee Knoxville’s College of Nursing offers a hybrid PNP certificate program for graduate nurses who wish to receive additional training in primary care pediatrics. This program prepares the MSN- or DNP-prepared nurse for a pediatric primary care nurse practitioner (PCPNP) career. 

The program encompasses a minimum of 600 hours of direct patient care clinical experience. Upon successful completion, graduates are eligible for PNCB certification as a Primary Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP-PC) and state licensure. 

  • Location: Knoxville, TN
  • Duration: Three semesters
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) 
  • Tuition: $17,815 total

Maryville University 

Maryville University’s online post-master’s nurse practitioner certificate – pediatric (primary care) nurse practitioner (MSN PNPC) is designed for students with an MSN who want to specialize in pediatric primary care. The 32-credit, 580-clinical-hour program focuses on the growth and development of the pediatric patient population. Prerequisite statistics are not required. Complete clinicals locally. No GMAT or GRE is required. 

  • Location: St. Louis, MO
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)  
  • Tuition: $813 per credit

Jobs for PNP Graduates

In addition to becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner, here are a few related career paths to consider.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) are advanced practice registered nurses who care for neonates or newborn babies. They provide comprehensive care for neonates from the time of birth through the first four weeks of life. 

In addition to providing traditional nursing care, NNPs perform diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and provide neonatal resuscitation. They work closely with neonatologists, pediatricians, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that neonates receive the best possible care. NNPs must complete a nurse practitioner graduate or doctoral degree and pass a national certification exam, such as the CCRN (Neonatal) exam offered by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN). 

Pediatric Oncology Nurse Practitioner

Pediatric oncology nurse practitioners care for children and adolescents with cancer, from diagnosis through treatment and follow-up. They work closely with the child’s doctor, family, and other healthcare team members to provide comprehensive care. In addition to providing direct patient care, pediatric oncology nurse practitioners also play an essential role in patient education and support. They help families understand the child’s diagnosis and treatment plan and offer emotional support to child patients and their families. 

Pediatric oncology nurse practitioners have MSN, DNP, or post-master’s certificates in this specialty area. In addition, they may hold board certification from an organization such as the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurse (APHON). 

Pediatric Cardiology Nurse Practitioner

A pediatric cardiology nurse practitioner is trained and specializes in caring for infants, children, and adolescents with heart conditions. Pediatric cardiology NPs work closely with pediatric cardiologists and surgeons to provide comprehensive patient care. In addition to diagnosing and treating cardiac diseases and congenital disabilities, pediatric cardiology nurse practitioners also provide education and support to families affected by heart conditions by sharing resources and treatment options for families seeking information about cardiac care. 

Pediatric cardiology NPs have an advanced degree such as an MSN, DNP, or a graduate certificate and professional certification such as the Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner Level IV Board Certification Examination from the American Board of Cardiovascular Medical Accreditation (ABCM).

Rachel Drummond, MEd

Rachel Drummond, MEd

Writer

At NursingColleges.com, Rachel Drummond has applied her extensive experience in education and mindfulness to elucidate the importance of self-care for nursing students since 2022. Through her writings, she underscores the role of mental and physical well-being in fostering resilient and compassionate healthcare professionals.

Rachel is a writer, educator, and coach from Oregon. She has a master’s degree in education (MEd) and has over 15 years of experience teaching English, public speaking, and mindfulness to international audiences in the United States, Japan, and Spain. She writes about the mind-body benefits of contemplative movement practices like yoga on her blog, inviting people to prioritize their unique version of well-being and empowering everyone to live healthier and more balanced lives.